Equality of opportunity and differences in social circumstances

Mason, Andrew (2004) Equality of opportunity and differences in social circumstances. The Philosophical Quarterly, 54, (216), 368-388. (doi:10.1111/j.0031-8094.2004.00358.x).


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Original Publication URL: http://dx.doi.org/j.0031-8094.2004.00358.x


It is often supposed that the point of equality of opportunity is to create a level playing-field. This is understood in different ways, however. A common proposal is what I call the neutralization view: that people's social circumstances should not differentially affect their life chances in any serious way. I raise problems with this view, before developing an alternative conception of equal opportunity which allows some variations in social circumstances to create differences in life prospects. The meritocratic conception which I defend is grounded in the idea of respect for persons, and provides a less demanding interpretation of fair access to qualifications; it nevertheless places constraints on the behaviour of parents, and has implications for educational provision in schools.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.0031-8094.2004.00358.x
ISSNs: 0031-8094 (print)
Related URLs:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Politics and International Relations
ePrint ID: 33953
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 16 May 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:00
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/33953

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