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

Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University
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.
Keywords Equal Opportunity  Affirmative Action  Discrimination  Reparations  Race Discrimination  Sex Discrimination
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.0264-3758.2004.00270.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,295
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

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

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Affirmative Action.Robert Fullinwider - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Scalar Properties, Binary Judgments.Larry Alexander - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):85–104.
The Value in Equal Opportunity: Reply to Kershnar.John O'dea - 2007 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (2):177–187.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Equality of Opportunity for Welfare Defended and Recanted.R. J. Arneson - 1999 - Journal of Political Philosophy 7 (4):488–497.
Equal Opportunity, Equality, and Responsibility.Alex Voorhoeve - 2005 - Dissertation, University of London
The Value in Equal Opportunity: Reply to Kershnar.John O'dea - 2007 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (2):177–187.
Equal Opportunity, Freedom and Sex-Stereotyping.Susan Leigh Anderson - 1991 - Journal of Philosophical Research 16:1-10.
Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?Marc Fleurbaey - 1995 - Economics and Philosophy 11 (1):25.
Equal Opportunity or Equal Education?Nicholas C. Burbules - 1990 - Educational Theory 40 (2):221-226.


Added to PP index

Total views
88 ( #122,111 of 2,448,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #142,635 of 2,448,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes