chapter  5
20 Pages

Luck, opportunity and disability

ByCynthia A. Stark

Equality of opportunity is widely held to be a requirement of distributive justice. If anything is uncontroversial in political philosophy, it is the idea that equal opportunity is good.1 Equality of opportunity is commonly understood to demand three things. First, it requires open competition for social positions – for jobs and for admittance to higher education. Second, it requires that contestants be assessed in terms of their qualifications where qualifications are understood as the capabilities needed to fulfill the duties of the position. Selectors are obliged to choose those applicants who are the most qualified. Third, it requires that individuals have adequate access to the qualifications associated with various social positions. Following John Rawls, I will call this common notion of equality of opportunity ‘fair equality of opportunity’ (Rawls 1971). This ideal can be interpreted in a number of ways, so there are many variants of fair equality of opportunity.