February 14, 2022

Using Quotas as a Remedy for Structural Injustice

Abstract

We analyze a frequent but undertheorized form of structural injustice, one that arises due to the difficulty of reaching numerically equitable representation of underrepresented subgroups within a larger group. This form of structural injustice is significant because it could occur even if it were possible to completely eliminate bias and overt discrimination from hiring and recruitment practices. The conceptual toolkit we develop can be used to analyze such situations and propose remedies. Specifically, based on a simple mathematical model, we offer a new argument in favour of quotas, explore implications for policy-making, and consider the wider philosophical significance of the problem. We show that in order to reach more equitable representations, quota-based recruitment may often be practically unavoidable. Assuming that members of groups in statistical minority are more likely to quit due to their marginalization, their proportions can stabilize at a low level, preventing a shift towards more equal representation and conserving the minority status of the subgroup. We show that this argument has important implications for addressing, preventing, and remediating the structural injustice of unfair representation.

February 14, 2022 at 07:54PM

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