Thomas Hill discusses three philosophical views of affirmative action; the forward-looking perspective, the backward-looking perspective, and the narrative perspective. The forward-looking perspective is used by those who feel affirmative action should be supported because of the future consequences. The backward-looking perspective is utilized by those who believe that affirmative action should be supported because of what has happened in the past and the need for reparation of the acts. The narrative perspective has components from both of the aforementioned arguments for affirmative action, and a few ideas of its own. In this paper, I will discuss the all of the theories above and why it is that I feel that the narrative perspective is the best approach for affirmative action. .
For those who support the forward-looking perspective, affirmative action is a good thing because, as a utilitarian would believe, the morally correct act is one in which the best consequences are produced for the greatest number of people. Some examples of positive consequences could be an ease in racial tension, a reduction in unemployment, or an enhancement of the self-esteem of minorities and women. Of course those believe the forward-looking perspective must also look at the possible negative effects of affirmative action. A few examples of negative consequences include: a temporary increase in racial tension, a damage in the respect of the minorities or women who rightly earned any positions, or damage to the self-esteem of those who accept affirmative action positions. Taking all of these possibilities into consideration, I conclude that the forward-looking perspective is not the best defense of affirmative action.
Another perspective that does not quite fulfill the requirements for the defense of affirmative action is the backward-looking perspective. This argument offers its support of affirmative action through the belief that past acts of wrong doing should be repaid.