Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part IV

Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part I
Part II, Part III
Part IV

We have shown that limited, and only limited, maximal diversity of physical characteristic is logically possible. However, three aspects make it impractical. The first is the necessity of coming to agreement with the definitions and delineations of each desirable physical trait. All experience suggests such an agreement will never happen, or will only be short lived, or must be made by government fiat. Thus, whatever diversity program is mandated—for we have seen that it cannot be left to fortune—will be seen as non-diverse by some.

The winners will naturally feel that their definition to be the only possible and that no counter argument exists. They will dismiss the losers as obtuse; the losers’ only recourse is to agitate politically for their groupings to be recognized (and this is indeed what we see). The second reason is related: not all will agree on the chosen traits, preferring others to the mandated ones (for example, most agree to ignore age in most contexts, but occasional disputes arise). The third reason is the necessity of quota masters. Once more, our knowledge of politics argues this will not be a morally pure process. Thus, while limited physical diversity is logically possible, it is nearly not possible in practice. Acrimony is guaranteed. This obviously holds whether diversity is meant to be maximal or proportional.

Now ignore all physical characteristics and concentrate solely on behavior (which we also defined as including mental processes). We still need the idea of scope, because human behavior on the planet as a whole approaches something like diversity (the explanation of “something like” is still to come). We want to stock people within each scope such that diversity of behavior is maximized. Let’s stay with our example of the professoriate at Behemoth U.

To be maximally (or even proportionally) diverse, these professors should purposely include rapists, pedophiles, murderers, cutthroats, the suicidal, serial killers, the maniacal, thieves, the abusive, those who don’t deign to or cannot teach, the inept, those practicing human sacrifice, psychopaths, liars, cannibals, torturers, and Marxists. If you choke on even one of these, and the myriads more similar behaviors, you are being judgmental and admitting that maximal diversity of behavior is not desirable. And you cannot allow for chance to bring these behaviors to the fore: you must select for them. Because, of course, chance might not stock your scope with the proper number of rapists.

You may think the point just made is obvious or silly. It is anything but. Chances are that you have never considered what range of behaviors you consider acceptable, thinking your definitions were “obvious” and agreed to by all. That view is so absurd that it isn’t even false. To take just one example, consider cannibalism, which some cultures have (and do) consider proper behavior. Are you multicultural enough to tolerate cannibals on campus? Is moral relativism important enough to you that you would allow General Butt Naked (a real name) and his gang of Liberians to sacrifice children to the gods and then eat their bodies? Would you allow the stoning of homosexuals in the name of inclusivity? Should the women in the classrooms of some professors be forced to undergo clitorectomies in the name of diversity? Should we adopt Sharia law?

Funnily enough, those who most loudly plead for moral relativism are those who also claim that there are universal “human rights”. I do not say the later claim is wrong, but it is inconsistent with moral relativism.

Again I say that if you dismiss these questions as absurd, then you are making a logical mistake or at least being petulant. If you, in any way, delineate a set of behaviors which are anathema, this implies that you are also defining a set of behaviors which are desirable or at least allowable. And once you do so, you admit that diversity of behavior is undesirable, that unconstrained multiculturalism is ridiculous, and that strict moral relativism is absurd. Notice that I leave aside all technicalities of what a “culture” is, how many people have to tolerate or encourage a behavior to make it “cultural”, and so forth—any definitions here will of course also be arbitrary and not universally agreed to.

Now, even if you are a strict moral relativist, even if you think it is fine to tolerate Nazis, say, we still have the problem that diversity of behavior is not possible unless we define, in advance, groupings of behaviors we deem worthy of tracking. Otherwise, there are too many behaviors and too few scopes: no scope will ever be able to boast of containing practitioners of every behavior, even proportionally. Universal maximal diversity of behavior is thus impossible, even if were desirable, which it clearly is not.

Limited diversity of behavior might be possible, however. Again, the dimensions of behavior must be made explicit and must be agreed to by all. Neither condition is likely to be fulfilled in practice, but in theory they might be. Clearly, political viewpoints are not one of the behaviors in which diversity is sought. Language use, for example, is also vexed by inconsistent opinions on diversity. And just saying “religion” ought to shiver your timbers.

Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part I
Part II, Part III
Part IV

16 Comments

  1. To my opponents (where did you all go, incidentally?):

    More proof that what is considered diverse is arbitrary (from this story):

    CHICAGO — Chicago mayoral candidate James Meeks is trying to do some damage control for comments he made this week about minorities that have him in hot water. .

    On Wednesday during an interview with WVON-AM, Meeks, who is black, suggested that only blacks should be eligible for city contracts set aside for minorities and women. He said he doesn’t believe that women, Hispanics or Asians should be referred to as minorities. He explained the other groups have not been discriminated against but still get the city contracts, which keeps African American businesses from getting a bigger share.

    Meeks backtracked, saying he’d only exclude white women from the set-aside program if elected. Later still, Meeks issued a statement, explaining that all minority and women-owned businesses deserve a fair share of city contracts.

  2. “To my opponents (where did you all go, incidentally?)”

    Ouch. That’s pretty harsh. Especially since I’ve left 9 comments, and you’ve replied to 0. That’s a 0% response rate from you, if my knowledge of statistics hasn’t deserted me.

    More proof that what is considered diverse is arbitrary

    If only you had been trying to demonstrate this all along. Instead you’ve posted four pages demonstrating that “maximal diversity” is a self defeating idea. Which it is.

    If your real problem with the concept of “diversity” is that different people have different measures, or that measuring it is difficult or impossible, or anything else, then actually make that argument, don’t just attack “maximal diversity” and pretend that this somehow defeats “diversity” as people actually mean it. That’s just missing the point, or deliberately asinine.

  3. Ender,

    Wrong on the 0%. Also wrong on my definition of diversity, which is either maximal or proportional (curious you leave that one out, eh?).

    But I’m curious what you say to behavioral diversity. That a good idea either maximally or proportionally?

  4. 😀 Yes, we cross-posted.

    I missed your argument against proportional, sorry, I’ll check it out.

    I would suppose that I could accept proportional behavioral diversity, within the confines of ‘ability to do the job’, but it really depends what you define as ‘proportional’, ‘behavioral’ and ‘diversity’. I’ll be interested to read your next update.

  5. [MR] Ender,

    How do you, assuming that you are a person, define “diversity? What do you mean when you use that word? What behaviors do you think should be “protected” by diversity laws? How do those cross-correlate with your own behaviors?

    Do you get what I’m driving at? What behaviors do you engage in that you think should be imposed on my business hiring practices? Please be specific and honest. What’s your dog in this fight?

  6. Mr Ender”

    :p Really? And I suppose I should respond [Uncle] Ron?

    How childish.

    I might have a look at what you’ve actually written tomorrow, if no one more worthwhile has responded. Goodnight.

    Portions of the last two comments have been edited by the blog owner for content.

  7. All,

    I received this fortuitous piece of spam email about an hour ago. It says much about how people currently view diversity, i.e. “under-represented groups”:

    Public Communication Division, PA/PL
    U.S. Department of State
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    http://www.dvlottery.state.gov
    Congratulations!!!

    You are among those randomly selected and registered for further consideration in the (DV) DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT PROGRAM for the fiscal Year 2010. This official U.S. government program aims to diversify the United States population by creating an immigration opportunity for under-represented groups. Properly completed entries are entered into a computer-generated lottery and winners are randomly selected.Winners and their family members are able to live, work, and study in the United States!

    Your visa winning/case numbers identity is 2010AF00J051PXXX and … [the remainder is the same as all other spam.]

  8. All your “opponents” left because it seems ridiculous to respond when you’re arguing against a proposition that no one supports. And you seem to ignore responses that invalidate your thesis. But here I go again…

    To be maximally (or even proportionally) diverse…

    Again, no one advocates maximal diversity of anything. You’ve explicitly stated that you’re not arguing anything about goals or outcomes, but that misses the entire point. No one advocates diversity for the sake of diversity, it’s an imperfect means towards the end of equal opportunity.

    these professors should purposely include rapists, pedophiles, murderers, cutthroats, the suicidal, serial killers, the maniacal, thieves, the abusive, those who don’t deign to or cannot teach, the inept, those practicing human sacrifice, psychopaths, liars, cannibals, torturers, and Marxists. If you choke on even one of these, and the myriads more similar behaviors, you are being judgmental and admitting that diversity of behavior is not desirable

    Again, no. It is logically consistant to say “some diversity of behavior is desirable” and also “acceptance of all possible behavior is not desirable.” Just like you can say “I enjoy drinking alcohol” and have a pint of beer without downing the whole keg.

    Chances are that you have never considered what range of behaviors you consider acceptable, thinking your definitions were “obvious” and agreed to by all.

    This is a point well worth making…

    To take just one example, consider cannibalism, which some cultures have (and do) consider proper behavior. Are you multicultural enough to tolerate cannibals on campus?

    … but you just fly right off the rails again. You keep repeating the same bad argument, so I’ll repeat the rebuttal: to say a thing (like diversity, tolerance etc) is desirable is not the same thing as saying you will maximize that thing at the cost of all else.

    If you, in any way, delineate a set of behaviors which are anathema, this implies that you are also defining a set of behaviors which are desirable or at least allowable. And once you do so, you admit that diversity of behavior is impossible, that unconstrained multiculturalism is ridiculous, and that strict moral relativism is absurd.

    I feel like Enders has made this point, and I’ve made it, but it can’t be said enough: you’re arguing against positions no one holds. Maximal diversity is impossible, but no one is arguing for maximal diversity. Unconstrained multiculturalism is ridiculous, but no one ever argues for unconstrained multiculturalism. Strict moral relativism is absurd, but no one argues that it isn’t.

    But valuing multiculturalism, and trying to promote it by seeking diversity, and recognizing a degree of moral relativism is perfectly tenable. Your arguments say nothing about any position that anyone actually holds. What are you doing?

  9. Kevin:

    If it’s true that “…no one advocates diversity for the sake of diversity, it’s an imperfect means towards the end of equal opportunity”, then advocates of diversity are saying we should put resources into increasing a characteristic that has no agreed upon definition or quantification (diversity), because it bears some kind of (undefined and unquantified) relationship to a second characteristic (equality of opportunity), which in turn has no agreed upon definition or quantification.

    In addition, we have no agreed upon function defining the value of an incremental increase in equality of opportunity (nor can we even begin to create one until we actually agree on a definition of what equality of opportunity is and on a measure for those increments). And we don’t have a function defining the costs associated with such an increase (nor can we until we agree on a definition of what the costs are and how to measure them).

    So how much of this diversity stuff are we supposed to buy?

  10. Kevin,

    You and Ender both appear to miss, or turn a blind eye to, proportional diversity, which I do not exclude. Why is this? I say that, at times, those who ponder diversity sometimes do mean maximal and sometimes do mean proportional. I can find instances where people do argue for maximal tolerance, for strict moral relativism, and unconstrained mutliculturalism. People really do argue for this stuff. They never explicitly state that some behaviors are forbidden, taboo, or anathema.

    But I make the same challenge to you as I have to Ender, what is diversity? Be as explicit as I have. If you feel you have a case to make about my definitions being wrong, you should be able to state definitely what “diversity” is. Are you up to it?

    Just for a teaser, equality of opportunity won’t work.

  11. @Kevin

    Actually you and Ender have (to the extent that you have) defined diversity completely differently. Ender has defined diversity as a measure of non-discriminatory behaviors, and you’ve defined it as a means of achieving “equal opportunity”.

    IMO, Ender’s definition is completely impractical, because it refers to a “pool of qualified applicants”, but who is the arbiter of “qualified”? The HR department? The EEOC? And what if you have two applicants who meet the minimum requirements, but one is clearly more qualified? Are we required to take the less qualified applicant in order to satisfy diversity requirements?

    And finally Kevin, I get back to your definition of diversity, or lack thereof. I don’t know how many people you’ve ever hired, or even interviewed. But the process of writing job requirements, screening applicants, interviewing, and deciding who to offer jobs, especially in highly specialized knowledge work, is eye-opening. In the past dozen years, the biggest problem I’ve had is finding ANYONE qualified, much less a “pool” to choose from.

  12. Sorry. My bad. But partially your own fault for messing with the 14th St Y. I told you they were aggressive.

  13. If diversity is ‘good’ it will occur naturally; everyone will be happy and all will be well with no action required.

    If, as typical in the real world, diversity specs have not been met naturally someone or some entity must have been monitoring the situation to have noticed the lack of optimal diversity. This someone or entity MUST have a definition of optimal diversity (more than likely subjective) and MUST have compelled the potentially non-diversified organization to supply its diversity data so that it could be compared against the ideal.

    So why monitor an organization’s diversity performance unless something can be done to correct imperfect diversity? Sounds like a job for government, because only government can be trusted to establish diversity standards, only government can determine whether diversity is being committed according to the relevant standards and only government can ‘do something’, by force, when the diversity standards are not met. Oh, and I forgot. Only government can be trusted to do all of the above impartially, without regard to political pressure from the myriad potential consumers of the fruit of the diversity tree.

    Which is why John Derbyshire pointed out that in the employee rolls of government organizations ‘diversities’ are represented far above their proportions in the population at large, especially in the departments in which the prime qualifications are heartbeat and respiration (the majority). And MOST especially in those departments responsible for monitoring diversity and enforcing diversity specs. Of course Derb got fired for pointing out this and many other obvious ‘features’ of diversities, so while diversity itself may be an existential good, discussing its empirical ‘goodness’ in detail, not so good.

  14. Diversity? When I go to Japan, I want to see japanese architecture/food/art and festivals. When I go to Gemany, I want to see big busted women serving beer and brautwurst. When I go to Hawaii, I want to see the grass skirts and flaming spears.

    Here in America, I would like to see Americans. Am I ethnically challenged?

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