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The granting of preferential treatment in hiring and admission to schools afforded to people who are members of a group which was previously discriminated against has been a major topic of debate for some time Do these people really deserve the advantages they are receiving Are the opportunities they are receiving actually discriminating against others who may be overlooked for that opportunity These are just some of the many questions surrounding this debate James Nickel in response to the question of whether or not preferential treatment policies are actually a form of reverse discrimination writes in his article Discrimination and Morally relevant Characteristics which these policies cant be argued against by the reverse discrimination argument He feels that the basis for the claim of reverse discrimination is a characteristic already deemed irrelevant and thus cant now be deemed relevant in an argument for reverse discrimination He writes This version of the reverse-discrimination argument namely that the justification for preferential policies is based on the same morally irrelevant fact that the original discrimination was based on and thus compensation based on this fact cant be justified just as discrimination based on this fact cant has a false premise since it assumes that the characteristic which was the basis for the original discrimination is the same as that which was the basis for the granting of special considerations And since the argument has a false premise it does not succeed in showing that to avoid reverse discrimination we must extend no special considerations whatsoever Nickel is arguing that the reverse discrimination argument is based on the wrong characteristic He believes in fact that the characteristic that it is actually based on is a morally relevant one thus compensation can be morally justified His argument looks like this 1 If the characteristic that justifies compensation now is not the morally irrelevant one that justified discrimination but rather another morally relevant one then
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