Equality of Opportunity

2739 words 11 pages
Barry Tanser 050007737
What is ‘equality of opportunity’?
“Equality of opportunity is a political ideal that is opposed to caste hierarchy but not to hierarchy per se” (Arneson)
The rational behind this political ideal is that society is uneven, with privileges, standing and potential for success being heavily influenced by many different factors predetermined by birth. The political ideal places an individual in any given rung of social hierarchy as a result of their background. Equality of opportunity calls on a ‘fairness of outcome’ in society, but there are different conceptions on how this ‘fairness of outcome’ can be achieved and to what degree there can be a level playing field in order to achieve the possibility of any
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Not only are there hereditary social disadvantages, but also natural ones too. One cannot help how intelligent or unintelligent they are. With the Conventional conception, those born with natural abilities can achieve their fairness of outcome even if they are born with social disadvantage, however those who are not born with such gifts are still destined to underachieve in comparison and even those with an advantageous background who have not the same gifts at birth can find themselves underachieving no matter how motivated they are. The radical conception does accept that not all particular jobs should be open to everyone. Swift uses a good scenario to explain this. “It would be odd to want the musically inept to have the same chance of becoming a concert pianist as the child prodigy. But opportunities to do particular jobs are not the same as opportunities to get the rewards usually associated with these jobs.” The Radical position promotes a meritocracy. Meritocracy being defined as a type of society where wealth, position, and social status are, through fair competition, gained on the basis that the persons are most qualified. Arneson defines the delicate relationship between the radical conception of equality of opportunity and meritcoracy.
“According to the broad meritocracy ideal, a justification for equality of opportunity is that its fulfilment is necessary if it is to be the case that individuals genuinely get what they deserve. If


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