Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel C. Maguire

Second Advisor

Michael K. Duffy

Third Advisor

Philip Rossi

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Carey

Fifth Advisor

Matthew L. Lamb


Preferential affirmative action is by no means popular, but this dissertation defends it as an appropriate response to the moral claims of Afro-Americans for bona fide inclusion in the mainstream of our national life. Chapters One and Two survey the plight of virtually all black persons, segregated outside the "Melting Pot" from their first arrival here in 1619, right up to the present day. Their shared history details how white racism, originally stoked by the monetary lure of slave trading, continued to keep them, as a group, "in their place" on or off Southern farm fields--before, during and one hundred years after the Civil War. Their collective burden makes it shamefully clear that since the scales of justice have tilted to their extreme disadvantage for over three centuries, the norms of justice now demand strong, restorative measures to empower them as full participants in the social order at long last. Chapter Three traces the development of affirmative action as public policy to achieve genuine integration by overcoming entrenched patterns which exclude blacks even after overt discrimination ceases. It them examines the legal challenge of a program giving preferential treatment to an "affected class" in school admissions and employment opportunities. The complex issues raised in numerous court cases brim with ethical content and show the critical need for a moral, as well as a juridical, resolution of this heated dilemma. Chapter Four tries to answer such a need by adapting themes from the social encyclicals to prove that a distorted preoccupation with individual rights and laissez faire competition, however sacred to the American lifestyle, contradicts basic Catholic theology. The primary emphasis of recent popes on human dignity as eminently interpersonal, on the promotion of the common good as everyone's top priority, on the imperatives of integral development for all people and the urgent elimination of scandalous disparities which isolate, rather than unify, sons and daughters of God, supports preferential affirmative action for blacks as a direct corollary of the Roman tradition.



Restricted Access Item

Having trouble?