The article develops an egalitarian justification of quotas. Its suggestion is, first, to differentiate between quotas as goals and quotas as a means. Second, three requirements for an egalitarian justification are introduced: it has to be demonstrated that 1) the ideal is desirable, that 2) quotas bring us closer to this ideal, and that 3) objections claiming their impermissibility fail. The article explores anti-discrimination, equality of opportunity and equal representation as desirable egalitarian ideals that are situated on the levels of procedural, distributive and relational justice. It argues that anti-discrimination is advanced by both quotas as a means and as goals, whereas equality of opportunity is primarily served by quotas as a means and equal representation by quotas as goals. Finally, it is indicated that the objections from reverse discrimination, merit violation, stigmatization and social partition are unfounded. Integrating three common egalitarian ideals, this three-step argument constitutes a comprehensive egalitarian justification of quotas.
The aim of the paper is to draft an outline of how an egalitarian justification of affirmative action might look like. I do so by injecting the ideas of parity, equal representation and participation into what has been established within the US philosophical debate on the policy. An egalitarian justification of affirmative action has to answer four questions, which, at the same time, structure the argument of my paper. First, I will consider whether and to what extent affirmative action measures are compatible with procedural fairness or may be even required by it, and which role equality plays in this connection. In the second paragraph, I will introduce a substantive account of equal opportunity and analyze how the policies in questions may contribute to the realization of this meritocratic ideal. In a third step, I will try to make sense of parity, equal representation and participation by connecting them to a concept of political equality, again, asking how affirmative action fits the bill. Finally, I explore the connections (and tensions) between procedural fairness, equal opportunity and parity and situate these ideas within a broader framework of democratic or relational equality.