Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee

Global Equality of Opportunity

  • Chris Armstrong
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_277

The principle of equality of opportunity is a dearly held one, at least within liberal political thought. It suggests a world in which individuals’ efforts and ambitions are not thwarted by unfair disadvantages of class, gender, or ethnicity. Indeed to oppose equality of opportunity would, on the face of it, appear unpalatable. But just what does equality of opportunity mean, and what would it entail? Once we scratch beneath the surface, as John Rawls showed, we find a variety of different conceptions, each with their own implications. Formal equality of opportunity, for instance, merely demands that competitions for favored social positions such as jobs should be open to all applicants. But this is compatible with members of one class or ethnicity being debarred, one way or another, from obtaining the necessary credentials. Fair equality of opportunity, Rawls’s own preferred version, holds that we should arrange “background conditions” so that each citizen, given the same talents and...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Armstrong
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK