Taking Self-Realization Seriously. A Critique of the Rawlsian Argument for Equality of Opportunity

WP-LPF 1/13

Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


What (if anything) justifies the place of Fair Equality of Opportunity (FEO) in Rawls’s conception of “justice as fairness”? Why, from a Rawlsian perspective, should a government give priority in the allocation of its educational budget to preventing unequal social backgrounds from generating inequalities in access to careers? A possible answer is that the priority ascribed in Rawls’s theory to the distribution of opportunity, rather than income, reflects the moral importance of self-realization through work. Against this argument, it is argued that this premise either supports a version of the Difference Principle (DP) without FEO or a form of allocative justice explicitly disavowed by Rawls. Thus, orthodox Rawlsians who endorse FEO and its lexical priority cannot attribute a special importance to selfrealization through work. The argument does not offer a conclusive case against FEO’s priority but shows that concerns of individual self-realization support the DP more directly than FEO.