Each outcome is another opportunity: Problems with the moment of equal opportunity

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (4):374-400 (2009)
Abstract
This article introduces the concept of a Moment of Equal Opportunity (MEO): a point in an individual’s life at which equal opportunity must be applied and after which it need not. The concept of equal opportunity takes many forms, and not all employ an MEO. However, the more egalitarian a theory of equal opportunity is, the more likely it is to use an MEO. The article discusses various theories of equal opportunity and argues that those that employ an MEO are problematic. Unjust inequalities, those that motivate the use of equal opportunity, occur throughout people’s lives and thus go unrectified after an MEO. However, it is not possible to abandon the MEO approach and apply more egalitarian versions of equal opportunity throughout a person’s life, since doing so entails problems of epistemology, efficiency, incentives, and counter-intuitive results. The article thus argues that liberal egalitarian theories of equality of opportunity are inconsistent if they support an MEO and unrealizable if they do not
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