More fun with contrarian argument

I've given some more thought to the affirmative action matter discussed below, and rather than revising that post even more, I'm going to elaborate here and partially reverse my view from below. Also, I hope you find this topic really interesting, because it's a long post.

1.The student writing to the Ethicist may be a strict Kantian. In that case she would probably will as a universal maxim, "One should not participate in Affirmative Action." If she is a Kantian, it would fully explain how her belief that affirmative action shouldn't exist entails an obligation to not take part in affirmative action. The rest of this post assumes that she is some variety of consequentialist on the topic of affirmative action.

2. Opposing the existence of an institution isn't a sufficient to create a moral obligation to not take part in that institution.

Example: Suppose that a person (call her Marie Antoinette) believes that democracy is wrong and that no one should have the right to vote. Marie no more obligation to not vote than anyone else does. Rather, they should make use of legitimate means within the system to try to have the their policy-preferences made law.

3. Point two isn't enough to argue for my position below re: affirmative action. The particular reasons that one wants the institution to not exist come into play. For instance, if Marie believed that each act of voting caused harm to/ violated the rights of some person or persons other than herself, it would appear that she has an obligation not to vote.

4. It is possible that the student who wrote to the Ethicist does think that each time an individual makes use of affirmative action they are causing a harm to and/or violating the rights of some other person or persons. If the school she is applying to is using a quota system (which is illegal) or something which functions like a quota system (which is possible), the student is simply wrong that her taking advantage of affirmative action unjustly harms anyone, regardless of her belief that affirmative action is wrong.

Example: Assume that affirmative action is unjust, and that in a just world a strictly "merit" based system would be used, and that merit is fairly detectable. The student might therefore assume that by making use of affirmative action, she is causing one person to unjustly not get in on merit, or causing a group of non-affirmative action eligible people to have their chance of getting in on merit unjustly decrease. But this belief is false. In a quota or quota-like system, her use of affirmative action would exclude someone else from getting in who would have gotten in due to affirmative action, not someone who would get in due to merit. On the other hand, her getting in based on merit leaves the number of people getting in under the quota-like system constant. So now she is in, one more person who would not have gotten in has gotten in due to affirmative action, and one person who would have been accepted in the merit world has been excluded. So, under a quota, if you are an affirmative action opponent, you should absolutely make use of affirmative action in order to reduce the harm on those who would get in under a merit based system.

5. The example in four depends on the quota like system. In a system which does not include any element of a quota, the student does have a moral obligation based upon her hypothetical belief that each occasion of participation in affirmative action unjustly harms some person or class of people. It's important that I qualify what I mean by having no elements of a quota. Imagine a system of affirmative action for redheads. If it is totally un-quota like, this system would allow for the possibility of there being zero redheads among the admitted class despite the affirmative action. It would allow for this in the case where all redheaded applicants, with whatever affirmative action factor is added on to their merit level, still have a lower total score than enough non-red headed applicants to fill the entering class. Any system which won't allow for this has a quota of "greater than zero." Under a system with a quota of "greater than zero," people who are opposed to affirmative action should still take advantage of it, since they are crowding out other people who would benefit from the affirmative action, not people who would get in on merit.

6. I think there is an error in the reasoning in point five. Point four is correct.