Equality of Opportunity, Cultural Diversity and Claims for Fairness
The present paper examines some of the tensions, problems and challenges associated with claims for equality of opportunity (the fairness argument). The introductory part identifies three separate forms of justification for public education, including the argument associated with equality of opportunity. Part II examines in detail two questions that reveal part of the anatomy of equality of opportunity: (1) what an opportunity is, and (2) when individuals’ opportunities are equal. This is followed by a presentation of the two basic principles of equality of opportunity: (1) the principle of non-discrimination, and (2) the “levelling the playing field” principle. The next part takes up the multiculturalist hypothesis advanced by minority groups for the accommodation and recognition of cultural diversity. This is followed by the identification of a set of claims comprising the “fairness argument”. The last section focuses on the “currency problem” associated with cultural diversity as a form of “unfair disadvantage”. Part V examines two of the major shortcomings associated with the multicultural conception of equality of opportunity, while the concluding part discusses some of the questions that must be answered by any conception of equal opportunities.
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