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BottlenecksA New Theory of Equal Opportunity$
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Joseph Fishkin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812141

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812141.001.0001

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Equal Opportunity and Its Problems

Equal Opportunity and Its Problems

Chapter:
(p.24) I Equal Opportunity and Its Problems
Source:
Bottlenecks
Author(s):

Joseph Fishkin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812141.003.0001

This chapter examines the most attractive contemporary theories of equal opportunity, including those of John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and the luck egalitarians. It argues that these conceptions of equal opportunity suffer from a series of related flaws. They cannot be fulfilled as long as families exist. They depend on disentangling the effects of choice or effort from the effects of circumstance in a way that is conceptually impossible. They have difficulty accounting for the concatenation of opportunities—the way the outcomes of one contest set up the starting gate of the next. And finally, they may not promote the individuality and flourishing that were the best reasons to value equal opportunity in the first place. Thus, we need to reconceive equal opportunity in a fundamentally different way.

Keywords:   equal opportunity, luck egalitarianism, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, choice, luck, circumstance, starting gate, individuality

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