Elizabeth AndersonThe Imperative of Integration

Princeton University Press, 2010

by Robert Talisse on September 1, 2011

Elizabeth Anderson

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Demographic data show that the United States is a heavily segregated society, especially when it comes to relations among African-Americans and whites.  The de facto segregation that prevails in the US is easily shown to produce grave and systematic disadvantage for African-Americans.  The degree and extent of this segregation is difficult to explain in the morally innocent terms of individual choice and personal responsibility.  Furthermore, the disadvantages that result are not adequately addressed by standing government policies aimed at anti-discrimination and the redistribution of social goods.

In The Imperative of Integration (Princeton University Press, 2010), Elizabeth Anderson makes a compelling case for thinking that de facto segregation is a failure of democracy.  And the failure is twofold: first, a de facto segregated society fails African-Americans in denying them full and equal democratic membership; second, de facto segregation fails democracy in that it loses the positive social goods that emerge from the integration of diverse perspectives and experiences.  She presents a rigorous argument for thinking that integration across racial and other social dimensions is a requirement for a democratic society.

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