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By Richard Bellamy, Andrew Mason

This booklet deals a cosmopolitan research of valuable political recommendations within the gentle of contemporary debates in political thought. It introduces readers to a few of the most interpretations, declaring their strengths and weaknesses, together with a wide variety of the most suggestions utilized in modern debates on political conception. It tackles the main techniques hired to justify any coverage or establishment and examines the most household reasons and services of the country. It is going directly to examine the connection among kingdom and civil society and at last appears past the country to problems with international quandary and inter-state relations.

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Sumner, ‘Positive Sexism’, Social Philosophy and Policy, 5 (1987), esp. pp. 213–14. This issue is also explored in Arneson, ‘Against Rawlsian Equality of Opportunity’. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 302–3. See Rawls, A Theory of Justice, p. 301. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 542–3. A. Hart, ‘Rawls on Liberty and its Priority’, in N. ), Reading Rawls (Oxford, Blackwell, 1975), esp. pp. 249–52, for some doubts about this argument. See Rawls, Political Liberalism, lecture VIII, esp. pp. 310–24, for Rawls’s response.

John Rawls’s account of fair equality of opportunity in A Theory of Justice provides a good illustration of the difficulties involved here. It is a sophisticated attempt to defend the idea that equality of opportunity is an independent principle of justice, the enforcement of which takes second place to respect for individual rights. I propose to explore Rawls’s account in some depth in order to bring out both its strengths and its weaknesses. I shall begin by briefly presenting, for the uninitiated, the main elements of his theory.

To suppose that Rawls is advocating that idea, however, is to ignore one of the two elements of fair equality of opportunity. He is clear that careers must be open to talents and that would immediately rule out a caste system. This does not wholly defeat the objection, however. There are many possible social systems in which the best-qualified candidates are appointed to advantaged social positions but where economic class, say, still strongly influences one’s chances of success. According to Rawls’s conception of fair equality of opportunity, it would appear that in these systems equal opportunity could be achieved simply by randomly reassigning babies at birth, and this is surely an unpalatable conclusion.

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