Talent development and the luck problem

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 (3):367 – 377 (2007)
This paper examines the relationship between the development of talented young sports people and conceptions of social justice. It is set within the context of recent policy developments in the United Kingdom that place renewed emphasis on talent development (and wider issues of ?gifted and talented education?), and justifies this with explicit reference to social justice. After providing a summary of relevant policy initiatives and their often-unstated presumptions, the paper goes on to examine the different ways in which philosophers have conceptualised the role of luck in human affairs. Luck is a matter of particular interest to social justice theorists, who often frame their discussions in terms of the neutralisation of luck. This presents something of a problem for policy makers, as talent development seems destined to exaggerate the effects of luck, not neutralise them. In other words, it is suggested here that talent development cannot be justified in terms of social justice ? at least the version of social justice advocated my many of the leading theorists ? because it results in the opposite outcome than would be desired. None of this means that talent development is indefensible; it is just indefensible in the terms used in the UK talent development policy
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Ronald Dworkin (1981). What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources. Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4):283 - 345.

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