Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

Alex Rajczi

Rights Information

© 2014 Janelle Garcelon


This paper examines common and past applications of affirmative action, including arguments for and against the application; presents John Rawls’ theory of justice, and proposes a framework using Rawls’ theory for future applications of affirmative action. The proposal relieves heavily on the principle of fair equality of opportunity, both as an indicator for when using affirmative action is appropriate as well as a tool to help identify the people that affirmative action programs should target. Using this framework, the public education system is identified as a sector of society that fails to provide fair equality of opportunity for all citizens, and an example of how the Rawlsian conception of affirmative action should be used in practice to help address the inequalities and help restore equality of opportunity within the public education system is given. Objections to affirmative action, both in general and more specifically tailored to the model proposed in this paper, are raised and responded to. This paper comes to the conclusion that affirmative action programs, when targeted towards individuals who are denied fair equality of opportunity and have low rates of social mobility, will help create a more just society.