Equality Of Opportunity

Equality of Opportunity


What does it really mean?

Equality, like all other ideals of social institutions, elicits debates for and against. In my opinion, it seems untenable to accept diversity and innovation as part of modern society and yet want everyone to fall in line when it comes to reaping his or her rewards for providing such valuable resources.

So is the opinion of the majority of the populace, what we seek refuge in, is the idea of equality of opportunity. It seems like everyone agrees to it. And when everyone agrees to something, it can be inductively inferred that they mean different but related things when they talk about it.

The following ideas are part of political literature and not original to me, hence the purpose of the article is to introduce different prevalent conceptions than present individual opinion.

To begin with, it is important to divide equality of opportunity into three distinct ideals that people generally think of when they talk about it. The divisions proposed would be that of right-liberal equality of opportunity, left-liberal equality of opportunity and the socialist equality of opportunity.

The right-liberal equality of opportunity is the one that I favour. It states that a person’s race or gender or religion should not affect their chances of being selected for doing some work or gaining certain privileges. Why does this make sense? Well, because a person’s social attributes( race, religion etc.) do not define their capacity for doing a job. For some people, this definition of equality of opportunity is specious and not adequate. They argue that a person’s background and his or her standing in the social hierarchy affects his or her ability to reach his or her optimal capacity. Hence, the government should not be afraid of levelling the playing field so that everyone can reach his or her optimal capacity. This some of them argue, also helps the population in reaching its maximum potential which extreme inequality limits. This is the left-liberal equality of opportunity. This argument is a bit more complex and has a slippery slope to the radical socialist view. To understand the socialist view, which is by far the most complex, we first must understand why some people advocate the left liberal theory of equality of opportunity. The explanation is that people are not born into rich or poor households by choice or due to certain valid reasons, it is because of luck. However, the socialist argues, neither do people gain their natural talents for some justified reason, that too is a matter of luck. Hence, if we want to level the playing field for people whose economic circumstances are different: we should also level the playing field for people whose natural talents are different as luck shares a causal relationship with talent. Thus, most socialists argue that neither a person’s social standing nor his natural talents should be taken into consideration when trying to fill a certain position in an organisation.

This argument might seem absurd to some people but if you accept the left-liberal point of view(as most people do) it becomes hard to negate the arguments presented by the extremist position.

Thus, which ideal should people choose to follow? That’s a rather difficult question, but, the purview of this article is not to answer that question but to illustrate how when answering difficult questions we first must consider what different people mean when they talk of the same thing.

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