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Equality of Opportunity

Equality of opportunity is a theory in which personal responsibility plays a central part in determining whether a social system is just. Individuals are held responsible for some characteristics, called efforts, and not responsible for other characteristics, called circumstances. Marc Fleurbaey and Walter Bossert point out that this results in two principles: On the one hand, differences in outcomes that are due to differences in circumstances are objectionable. On the other hand, effort should be adequately rewarded. The former is called the compensation principle, the latter the reward principle.

The three dominant theories about what people are responsible for are responsibility for choice, responsibility for preferences, and responsibility for control. This entry explains these theories, what they mean in terms of equality of opportunity, and ...

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