Why equal opportunity is not a valuable goal

Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (2):159–172 (2004)
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Abstract

In this paper, I provide an analysis of equal opportunity. I argue that equal opportunity occurs where two or more persons with equal natural abilities and willingness to work hard have chances at various jobs that are in the aggregate of equal value. I then argue that equal opportunity is neither valuable nor something that the government ought to pursue. First, it is not clear why we should value opportunities rather than outcomes. Second, the value of equal opportunity rests on the value of interest satisfaction. However, if interest satisfaction is relatively constant across different jobs and different job opportunities, then the concern for interest satisfaction will not ground the value of equal opportunity. Third, equalizing opportunities is not in itself valuable because persons are not equally valuable. Fourth, even if equal opportunity were valuable, the government can pursue it only by trespassing on individual rights.

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Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University

References found in this work

Comfort, Hedonic Treadmills, and Public Policy.Joel J. Kupperman - 2003 - Public Affairs Quarterly 17 (1):17-28.

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