, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 78-89
Date: 01 Mar 2013

Both Wrong and Bad

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Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide is a splendid book, penetrating and right. I divide my review into three parts. In the first I explain the general character of Russell Nieli’s superb accomplishment. In the second I identify specifically some (but by no means all) of the empirical arenas within which he does what he set out to do. In the third I report, reluctantly because I am so fully in agreement with his position, some faults of this big book.

The Wrong and the Bad

Philosophers have long distinguished between what is right and what is good. Rightness refers to the moral character of an act or a policy; it looks to the principles with which the act is done. Goodness refers to the worth of outcomes, to the merits of what results from acts and policies. Ideally, of course, we hope that right acts will have good results, but we know that in the real world things don’t always work out that way. I may act rightly, and the result may be dreadful