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ERIC Number: EJ1125856
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1477-8785
The Many Faces of Equal Opportunity
Temkin, Larry S.
Theory and Research in Education, v14 n3 p255-276 Nov 2016
The ideal of equality of opportunity plays an important role in contemporary social and political discourse, and it is one of the few ideals which most people, across the political spectrum, accept. In this article, I argue that the seemingly widespread agreement about the value of equal opportunity is more apparent than real. I distinguish between relatively narrow principles of equal opportunity that focus on certain social, political, and legal benefits; the equal opportunity merit principle; and wide principles of equal opportunity that focus on any goods or benefits that impact the quality of a person's life. In doing this, I aim to illuminate the intuitive and philosophical underpinnings that these approaches provide to equal opportunity and explore their various strengths, weaknesses, and implications. I also note that questions analogous to those raised about the value of equality can be raised about the value of equal opportunity. In particular, one might wonder whether one should care about opportunities from the perspective of an egalitarian; or from the perspective of a prioritarian, a sufficientarian, a utilitarian; or someone who feels compassion toward people lacking important opportunities. I suggest that there are, indeed, reasons of comparative fairness to be concerned about "equal" opportunities, but then note that the notion of equality is, itself, enormously complex, and that this complexity will be carried over into the notion of equal opportunity. I then consider possible connections between equal opportunity and education, noting that the different approaches to equal opportunity may have different implications regarding equal opportunity "for" education, equal opportunity "in" education, and equal opportunity "through" education. I conclude that equal opportunity is a complex notion, and that much work will need to be done to accurately understand its nature, scope, and implications, as well as how much weight the different approaches to equal opportunity should be given relative to each other, or other important ideals, for the purposes of social, political, and moral reasoning generally, or our thinking about education, in particular.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A