The Concept of Equality of Opportunity

The Idea of Equality of Opportunity

The idea of equality of opportunity is linked to the liberal political thought, referring to the situation in which people’s ambitions and efforts are not disenchanted by the biased disadvantages of ethnicity, class, or gender. In many cases, opposing the principle of equality of opportunity appears unpalatable. As Caney demonstrated, defining the equality of opportunity and finding out what it entails would lead to a variety of diverse conceptions with different implications. In the exercise of the principle of equality of opportunity, the competition for the viable social and economic positions such as employment should always remain open to all the applicants. Simon Caney has reiterated that the existing criticism of the principle of the equality of global opportunity is related to the difficulties that people usually encounter during its implementation. Furthermore, he explained that individuals should avoid holding the notion that the principle should enable equal access to the similar economic and social positions. Instead, they should create equal opportunities to enable different persons to occupy social positions in equal measure and value in terms of incentives accorded to them.

Simon Caney's Arguments Concerning the Idea of Equality of Opportunity

Simon Caney’s arguments concerning the idea of equality of opportunity appear straightforward; according to the author, it is an unfair and arbitrary practice when the representatives of particular ethnicity to dictate the life chances (Caney 2012, p.37). No individual chooses to be born in a particular ethnic group or race. Consequently, there is nobody who predetermines the gender. Simon Caney further argues that the idea of equality of opportunity is just as strong as the idea of domestic version. His argument contains insightful implications that people should exhibit equality in enjoying the opportunities determining the course of the life of every individual. No one should be intimidated or denied such opportunities on the basis of race or their affiliated tribes or ethnicity. The idea of equality of opportunity should therefore change the ways of administering educational system as well as accessing the essential resources. All people and policymakers should focus on creating equal opportunities for the positions defining the general standard of living. Caney maintains that the formal equality of opportunity should also relate to the liberation of economic activities as well as institutions from restrictions and privileges through the creation of competitive market economies. The appointments to the jobs as well as the governmental posts should be done based on merits rather than nationality, race, or ethnicity. Through the adoption of Caney's idea about the global equality of ethnicity, economies would be able to prosper. Caney’s argument is opposed to nepotism, in terms of which jobs and other economic opportunities are awarded to the friends and relatives, who are mostly not qualified to take such positions. The notion of “formal equality of opportunity” is often applied interchangeably with the idea of “career open to talents.”

The Limited Scope of Caney's Argument on Global Equality of Opportunity

Caney's argument on global equality of opportunity has a limited scope. The application of the principle is public in nature since does not exist in private life of many individuals or groups of people. Determining where the difference in application exists is often a challenging process. The made decisions can be supportive to wrongful prejudice. Caney argues that the global equality of opportunity is the idea of regulating civil and political society. It provides a platform where all members of a community can participate. However, its scope is open to challenges as a result of diversities in the society. The domains of the idea of equality of opportunity are political. The preferences are often enforced by the leaders, which creates inequality in terms of job distribution and creation of opportunities for all. The failure by the governments to ensure the development of the formal societies usually leads to the emergence of politics of identities, which frequently leads to ethnicity, tribalism, and nepotism. The idea of global equality of opportunities puts ethical constraints on economic decisions. According to Caney (2012, p.54), this principle is dishonored when the investors or the economies fail to invest in a company just because the manager or the Chief Executive Officer belongs to a specific ethnic group, race, or a certain gender. The author argues that if an individual runs a business and offers services or products to the public, it is a violation of the principle of global equality of opportunity to refuse to offer them to specific groups of people or the potential customers on the basis of their ethnicity. Caney reaffirms that the idea of global equality of opportunity often puts a lot of constrains on the purchasing behaviors of the customers. Most businesses operate successfully in the diverse environments encompassing different ethnic groups, the provision of opportunities for which often leads to the successful operation of a business venture. When people are given privileges in the most prominent positions, they usually tend to create suitable environments for their workers and colleagues. There is always a lack of substantial reasons why the representatives of a specific group of people should be appointed in a specific position both in the government and in other institutions since such posts should always be open and given to those people who are best qualified to undertake the relative tasks.

The Role of Nationality in Global Equality of Opportunities

Simon Caney stipulates that people from different nationalities should be entitled to equal opportunities, and no individual should be discriminated based in his/her country of origin. The idea of nationality should act as a factor bringing progressive ideas rather than as a barrier hindering people from achieving what is important to them. In most cases, the progressive states of the world are the ones that consider every individual as important. With the increased seclusion of people on the basis of their race or nationality, economic progress often becomes a challenging process. The above situation interferes with chances of establishing equal job opportunities. Nationality is a factor creating social, economic, and political inequalities. It influences decision-making, which leads to the appointments of different personalities to various positions both on governments and private sectors. Caney argues that careful examination of the advantages of global equality of opportunities will lead to an integrated and progressive economic environment, in which every person could take part in the process of decision-making. On the other hand, it can also facilitate global justice by encouraging people to accept the contribution of each person to the society.

Establishing an Environment of Global Equality of Opportunities

The idea of global equality of opportunities encourages people, organizations, and governmental institutions to be the best helpful tools capable of ensuring the equality of opportunities. Such institutions should also create foundational forms of human liaisons and specific moral obligations. The principle of global equality of opportunities is meant to eradicate the inequalities that could be inherited by different generations, attempting to integrate the society by enhancing the relationship of people from diverse origins. The world does consist of different kinds of people, and therefore, accepting and appreciating everyone is a great step towards mitigating the differences existing among the individuals. Following Caney's arguments and putting them into practice would aid in establishing an environment where people associate and understand each other. In Caney’s ideal environment, individuals do not intimidate each other on the basis of their ethnicity or race; the author tries to influence the society by creating a pool of mindset capable of enhancing an inclusive and progressive community. The development of economies requires strong collaboration between different stakeholders from diverse origins. Therefore, following the Caney's perceptions of global equality of opportunities, people are capable of achieving uniform social progress in different societies.


Caney, S., 2012. Just emissions. Philosophy " Public Affairs, 40(4), pp.255-300.

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