Against Equality of Opportunity

Against Equality of Opportunity

2.67 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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Against Equality of Opportunity deals with the ways in which opportunities - education, jobs and other things which affect how people get on in life - are distributed. Take jobs: should the best person always get the job? Or should everyone be given an equal 'life chance'? Or can we somehow combine these two ideas, saying that the best person should always get the job, but that everyone should have an equal chance to become the best? These seem to be the
standard views, but this book argues that they are all flawed. We need to understand meritocracy for what it is - a technical rather than a moral ideal; and we need to accept that equality just isn't something we should be striving for at all in this area. We also need to rethink our approach to the related
issue of discrimination. We tend to assume discrimination is wrong because it violates either meritocracy or equality, when in fact it is wrong for quite different reasons. In all these areas, then, Cavanagh aims to loosen the grip of established ways of thinking, in order that other ideas might find room to breathe. This is particularly important in the case of meritocracy, which after the recent conversion of the centre-left now dominates the debate more than ever.
This book will be of interest to students and teachers of political philosophy, but ultimately it is aimed at anyone who cares about the fundamental values that lie behind the way society is organized. Though the argument is rigorous, it does not require a professional philosophical training to follow it.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 147 x 223 x 17mm | 383g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 0199243433
  • 9780199243433

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Meritocracy ; 3. Equality ; 4. Discrimination ; 5. Conclusions ; References, Index
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Review quote

... a book that dares to argue against both meritocracy and equality, surely has to be welcome as a way out of the mess. * Philosophical Investigations * Cavanagh does create space for new ideas and on more than one occasion offers some penetrating insights on both meritocracy and equality. * Philosophical Investigations * This is a clearly written book that repays careful attention. * Political Studies Review * Useful book ... Cavanagh does a tidy job of distinguishing a variety of ways of reading the meritocratic principle. * Contemporary Political Theory * It is true that Against Equality of Opportunity is a contrarian book - and all the better for that. * John Gray, The Independent, Thursday Book, * ... the book fully lives up to its provocative title. In the horse-trading of meritocracy versus equality, few have had the nerve and imagination to throw out both these ideals at once. * Nicholas Fearn, Spectator *
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About Matt Cavanagh

Matt Cavanagh was Lecturer in Philosophy at St Catherine's College, Oxford, 1996-2000.
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Rating details

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