Debating opportunities, outcomes and democracy: Young and Phillips on equality
Political Studies, 54, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.2006.00600.x).
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Within recent egalitarian theory, the ideal of equal opportunity holds considerable sway. Liberal egalitarians increasingly concentrate on refining this ideal, as do a number of Marxist theorists. At the same time many radical critics are unhappy with various aspects of this hegemony of equality of opportunity, and this article examines the reasons for their unhappiness, as well as two possible solutions. The first would be to reject equal opportunities in favour of another conception of equality, or to argue that the ideal can only play a limited role within an egalitarian project. Another would be to try to radicalise the idea of equal opportunities: to argue that equality of opportunity can be a transformative ideal if it is interpreted sufficiently broadly or deeply. We can identify Anne Phillips with the first approach, and Iris Young with the second. On the question of whether equality of opportunity can provide an overarching normative framework for egalitarian politics, Young's response is in the positive, whereas Phillips' is in the negative. The article critically addresses this dilemma, and concludes by siding with Phillips, by arguing that equality of opportunity is not capable of standing in as an overarching normative principle for egalitarian politics.
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