Against Equality of Opportunity / Edition 1

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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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Editorial Reviews

Cavanagh has undoubtedly highlighted some important areas of debate for philosophers and politicians.
London Review of Books
Cavanagh's argument…enables us to pierce the cloud of platitudes surrounding the idea of [meritocracy] and see through to the confusion beneath…He is a good bullshit detector… unforgiving rigour
Excellent...The book fully lives up to its provocative title. In the horse-trading of meritocracy versus equality, few have had the nerve and the imagination to throw out both these ideals at once.
Times Higher Education Supplement
Assured, punchy and tenacious… As a piece of consecutive thinking about the goals of defensible public policy in a modern democracy, [t]his book gives an object lesson to anyone who cares about its politics and acknowledges the responsibility to try to understand what is really at stake in them.
Notre Dame Philosophical Review
this is a well-argued, insightful, highly nuanced book, well worth close study by anyone who is concerned to make sense of the concept of equal opportunity. It is a model of close, rigorous, analytic thinking about moral matters. It challenges received orthodoxies at several points, and forces all of us to reevaluate our commitment to meritocracy and equality.
Independent Tuesday Book
Against Equality of Opportunity is a contrarian book - and all the better for that... In setting out clearly the argument that equality in distribution has no inherent moral importance, the book performs a valuable service.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199265480
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Meritocracy
1 Two concepts of meritocracy 33
2 Meritocracy as a way of rewarding desert 35
3 Meritocracy as hiring the best person for the job 43
4 Are employers obliged to hire the best people? 49
5 When being good at he job is not just a means to an end 54
6 Arguments for meritocracy that appeal to efficiency rather than fairness 63
7 Meritocracy in the public sector 69
8 Legitimate expectations 72
9 Should we be trying to promote merit indirectly? 77
10 Conclusions 78
Pt. 2 Equality
1 Equality and meritocracy 83
2 Some common but unsuccessful arguments for equal treatment 90
3 Arguments for equality in the face of difference 103
4 Egalitarian arguments that appeal not to some claim we are each separately thought to possess, but to our relations with each other 112
5 Equality of what: Work, opportunities, or chances? 118
6 So why do we believe in equality? 132
7 Conclusions 138
Pt. 3 Discrimination
1 Discrimination, meritocracy, and equality 153
2 So what exactly is wrong with discrimination? 160
3 A libertarian objection 167
4 Does every kind of discrimination express contempt? 176
5 Is it unfair to use statistical judgements when dealing with people? 180
6 Giving in to people's prejudices 193
7 Is discrimination wrong in itself, or because of its effects? 197
8 Conclusions 207
Conclusions 213
References 219
Index 221
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