Mr Cooper seeks to show that quality and equality in education are incompatible, but not by taking the easy course of arguing that they are definitionally inconsistent, or the still easier one of treating them as stand-ins for the opposed policies of egalitarianism (preferring equality to quality) or ‘qualitarianism’ (preferring quality to equality). Instead he tries to find a middle position in which it can be argued that, when demands for quality and equality are both ‘appropriate’ they are incompatible in the sense that neither can be satisfied without detriment to the other. The question, obviously, is whether such an intermediate position is tenable. Mr O’Hagan thinks not, arguing that Cooper’s incompatibility thesis is virtually tautological under the conditions on which alone it is true, and, consequently, that it does not rule out the substantial possibility of equality and quality being sometimes simultaneously promotable in the real world. My own educational and social preferences are closer to Cooper’s than O’Hagan’s, but I have to concede to the latter the better of the argument on the main question ostensibly at issue. On the other hand it seemed to me, both when I first read the papers and more strongly since, that the authors somehow fail to get properly to grips.
KeywordsSocial Inequality Social Preference Educational Quality Educational Inequality Postage Stamp
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