The Moral Compass Oscillates

Following up on the college admission scandal . . .

Moral compass

Now that we have faces and names, sums of money, and details on specific subterfuges, the level of anger, shock and indignation is much higher than I would have expected regarding what I thought was already taken as a truism: that parents with money and influence can get their kids into colleges that they couldn’t get into on their own merits.

Everyone also knows that students are routinely admitted to colleges based on various forms of diversity rather than on academic achievement. Moreover, virtuous Americans agree that tilting the system in this way in favor of academically unqualified individuals is a good thing.

I would have thought that the moral question is whether it’s right to tilt the admissions process at all based on non-meritorious criteria such as demographics, including the demographic of having rich parents.

If everyone agrees that the process should be tilted, I wouldn’t expect the moral compass to oscillate based on the direction of the tilt.

Why would tilting the process in one direction be admirable but tilting it in a different direction be reprehensible?

If it’s admirable for you to put your thumb on the scale, why is it odious and vile for others to do the same?

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