within our framework, while the program it avoided andecision on in De Funis (providing preferential treatmentnfor race as such) would not be.nWe should mention one persistent counterargument tonthis conclusion about preferenhal treatment. Preferentialntreatment based merely on race (or on other arbitrary nativencharacteristics) is sometimes supported, not as a remedy forndevelopmental disadvantages in the present, but as a form ofncompensation for injustice in the past. However, the mistargetingnobjection has force here, as well, but with additionalncomplications.nFirst, the list of groups which were, historically, victimsnof discrimination is much broader than the groups nowndemanding compensation. Consistent pursuit of this argumentnwould produce a host of other ethnic claims—Irish,nPolish, and Italian, Catholic as well as Jewish, in additionnto the more familiar arguments made on behalf of Hispanics,nNative Americans, and Orientals. This proliferation isnnot fanciful. The Anti-Defamation League discovered onenAmerican law school which had not less than 16 racial andnethnic categories for admissions classification.nSecond, the very notion of compensation raises conceptualnchallenges—unacknowledged by its proponents—nwhen applied to this kind of problem. An individual X isnsupposed to be compensated by returning him to the level ofnwell-being he would have reached, had some identifiableninjustice in the past (committed against his forebears) notnoccurred. In tracing back through the generations, however,nit soon becomes clear that X would usually not nownexist, were it not for the historical injustice. If we try tonimagine the world which would have existed, had thenhistorical injustices not occurred, we cannot return X to thenlevel he would have reached, because he would not havenreached any level at all.nFor example, let us take the case of Kunta Kinte. If KuntanKinte, Alex Haley’s ancestor in Roots, had not been brutallynkidnapped and sold as a slave, there is no likelihood that thenauthor of Roots would have come to exist in the 20thncentury. The mating and reproduction of each generation,nin turn, depends on a host of contingencies, if the chainnwere to have been broken at any point, by a parent,ngrandparent, great-grandparent, etc., we would get a differ-n” [Judge Noonan] belongs to that rare tradition ofnscholarshiip in which specialized studies are enhanced bynmoral vision and a dazzling skill with words. These giftsnmake John T. Noonan an ideal Erasmus lecturer.”nMagna Est VeritasnTtuth Is Great:nIt Prevailsnthe second annualnErasmus Lecturenby John T. Noonann—AmericanTb order your copy, send $1.95 plus .50 postage and handling tO:nThe Rockford Institute, 934 North IVlain Street, Rockford, IL 61103.n14 / CHRONICLESnnnent result in this generation. If it were not for the initialninjustice, Kunta Kinte’s descendants might well have beennnative Africans, perhaps residents today of Juffure (KuntanKinte’s village in West Africa).nHence, we cannot employ the straightforward notion ofncompensation (returning people to the level they wouldnhave reached had the injustice not occurred) when theninjustice spans several generations. Perhaps some compellingnversion of the argument might be created whichnconfronts this difficulty. Rather than deny this possibility Inwish merely to claim that such an argument, if it werendeveloped, should, at the least, accept my objection tonmistargeting.nCompensation is not compatible with the mistargetingnwhich results from preferential treatment applied merely tonracial categories in competitive meritocratic contexts. Compensationncannot plausibly mean benefiting some blacksn(already well-off) for earlier injustices to other blacksn—particularly when those who do not, by and large, benefitnfrom the compensatory argument (the urban underclass) arenexperiencing extremely disadvantaged conditions. To take anprovocative analogy, would it not have been outrageous ifnthe German government had paid “compensation” tonwell-off American Jews after World War II, ignoring thenorphans and other direct victims of the Holocaust? It wouldnnot have been real compensation to benefit Jews indiscriminatelynor, even worse, to benefit disproportionately thosenwho were untouched by the injustices at issue. For thisnreason, I conclude that the compensation argument doesnnot alter the general conclusion about preferential treatmentnreached earlier. When it is directed at those who are,nthemselves, from disadvantaged backgrounds, it is admissiblenwithin our framework (for then the gain in equal lifenchances may balance the loss in strictly meritocratic assignment).nBut when, in competitive meritocratic contexts, it isnapplied merely on the basis of arbitrary native characteristics,nthen we have grounds for objecting to it.nOnce we take account of the family, equal opportunityndemonstrates the plausibility of a limited liberalism—onenwhich offers ideals without an ideal, one which oflFersnprinciples in conflict without a single unified vision.nHowever, these moral conflicts do not disenfranchise usnfrom offering significant prescriptions. If we simply embracensubstantial gains without a loss and reject substantialnlosses without a gain, we can already see important resultsnfor the contemporary scene. While these results do not addnup to a systematic theory, they should assist us in rethinkingnimportant policies. ccnSuggested Reading:nBruce Aekerman, Social justice in the Liberal State (NewnHaven and London: Yale University Press, 1980).nJames S. Fishkin, Justice, Equal Opportunity and thenFamily (New Haven and London: Yale University Press,n1983).nJohn Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA:nHarvard University Press, 1971).nBernard Williams, “The Idea of Equality” in PeternLaslett and W.G. Runciman (eds.) Philosophy, Politicsnand Society, Second Series (Oxford: Basil Blaekwell,n1962).n