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Discrimination of this sort aims to preserve caste subordination. A successful discriminatory regime produces economic advantages for the dominant caste members, and also sweeping social advantages, so that sheer possession of white skin will predict that one will enjoy better life prospects than those who lack white skin.

Group status hierarchies are entrenched and sustained by social norms that dictate costly individual behaviors directed at favoring fellow group members if one belongs to the superior group and at exhibiting deferential and submissive behavior if one belongs to a disfavored group.

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Conformity to the norms is rewarded and deviations punished McAdams The stability of group status hierarchy regimes raises the question, what motivates individuals to follow the norms that sustain the regime and to punish those who deviate even though following and punishing incur costs and often run against the individual's self-interest.

Part of the answer appears to be that in an ongoing status hierarchy, people internalize the norms and esteem those who follow the norms, and the desire for this esteem motivates one to conform. Expressing admiration of those who adhere to social norms one accepts is often not costly behavior for an individual, but rather a pleasant activity. Moreover, we humans evidently have a native disposition to be rule-following punishers, who tend to accept current dominant social norms and to desire to punish those who violate them even when doing so is disadvantageous for us Bicchieri chapter 3 and Henrich and Henrich chapters 7—8.

The same generic trait that leads us to be disposed to punish those who steal and lie and neglect their children can also lead us to be disposed to punish those who challenge established group status hierarchy norms such as white supremacy. State-enforced laws can help create and sustain such a regime, as with Jim Crow segregation laws in the U.

South in the twentieth century, but discriminatory social norms can arise and thrive and confer benefits on dominant caste members in the absence of legal enforcement. Group status hierarchy can form on the basis of any arbitrary observable trait—skin color, supposed race, ethnicity, sex, heterosexual or nonheterosexual sexual behavior, age, and so on—but a trait that is exploited for this purpose will not be regarded as arbitrary by those who uphold the hierarchy.

If the basis of the status hierarchy is white skin color, white skin will be prized as inherently attractive and as a marker for other valuable qualities such as intelligence and virtue.

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Those who uphold the status hierarchy can then see themselves not simply as advancing group self-interest but as defending a desirable moral order. A status hierarchy then will be ideological, based on false beliefs that serve some people's interests. This thumbnail sketch of derogatory discrimination and group status hierarchy helps explain how and why public policy measures to enhance equality of opportunity tend to be controversial in complicated ways.

When a group status hierarchy is officially dismantled, people may disagree widely on such questions as whether the underlying prejudiced attitudes have disappeared or have persisted in subtler and less overt forms. The problem with formal equality of opportunity is that it is merely formal.

Jordan Peterson Does Not Support ‘Equality of Opportunity’

Imagine a society ruled by a hereditary warrior class as in B. Williams Reformers bring about a change. From now on, membership in the warrior class will not be drawn exclusively from the wealthy stratum of the society. Warriors will instead be selected on the basis of a competitive examination in military prowess administered to any young adult member of society who seeks admission into this elite class.

How Equal Should Opportunities Be? | National Affairs

However, it turns out that only scions of the wealthy stratum pass the exam and become warriors. Everyone in society except the wealthy is poorly nourished, and being well nourished is a prerequisite for developing the military skills needed to succeed on the competitive examination. In this setting, advocates for the nonwealthy strata of society might object that none but members of the traditional wealthy elite have a chance to satisfy the eligibility requirements for admission to the warrior class. Even if all are eligible to apply for a superior position and applications are judged fairly on their merits, one might hold that genuine or substantive equality of opportunity requires that all have a genuine opportunity to become qualified.

In the example just sketched, this would mean that all members of society have the opportunity to develop the needed military skills. One can imagine the society taking a variety of steps to provide opportunities to all. Nutrition supplements are made available to those whose diet is inadequate. Scholarships to military academies can be won by poor children. Warrior skills coaches are dispatched to every village. As more is done to provide opportunities that enable ambitious and talented youth from any social group to acquire proficiency at warrior skills, at some point the complaint that none but the wealthy have a chance to enter the warrior class begins to sound hollow. At some point it might be held that sufficient or good enough opportunities to become qualified have been provided to all. The idea would be that substantive equality of opportunity prevails with respect to some desirable position or ranked order of positions just in case all members of society are eligible to apply for the position, applications are fairly judged on their merits and the most meritorious are selected, and sufficient opportunity to develop the qualifications needed for successful application is available to all.

Scholarships are provided for some poor children, but wealthy parents can hire private fencing and jousting tutors. Some families own horses and can impart horse riding skills to their children, which gives them a competitive advantage over others. And so on.

Yaron Answers: Should We Promote Equality of Opportunity?

Fair equality of opportunity FEO is satisfied in a society just in case any individuals who have the same native talent and the same ambition will have the same prospects of success in competitions that determine who gets positions that generate superior benefits for their occupants.

In other words, if Smith and Jones have the same native talent, and Smith is born of wealthy, educated parents of a socially favored ethnicity and Jones is born of poor, uneducated parents of a socially disfavored ethnicity, then if they develop the same ambition to become scientists or Wall Street lawyers, they will have the same prospects of becoming scientists or Wall Street lawyers if FEO prevails.

Rawls writes that. Rawls It should be noted that the specification of FEO just given departs from the specification in Rawls There Rawls defines FEO so it requires only that the socio-economic status into which one is born has no impact on one's competitive prospects. There is also the issue to be discussed below, whether the rights of parents to raise their children as they choose take priority over FEO and constrain its fulfillment. He sees FEO as instead demanding that all individuals especially including the disadvantaged should have opportunities to develop their talents. What extent of opportunities?

This formulation looks like weak tea. Rawls exegesis aside, the formulation that sees FEO as requiring equal chances for the equally well endowed, a perfect meritocracy if you will, is interesting, controversial, and resonates with concerns about chances for mobility in the context of modern market economies.

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In the remainder of this entry, FEO refers to this broader ideal. FEO articulates the ideal of a classless society of a sort. If the mark of a class society is that positions in the social hierarchy are passed along from generation to generation, then the society that satisfies the FEO ideal is classless in so far as parents can pass along advantages to their children only by genetic inheritance and by socialization that instills ambition. Notice that FEO so understood is violated if some individuals gain significant advantages by gift or inheritance.

One could amend FEO so that it permits gift and inheritance, deemed private transactions, and imposes constraints only on public sphere competitions. Otherwise the advantages that well-off parents can confer on their children by providing better education and socialization than others receive or by providing access to a social network of well-off individuals are entirely eliminated or offset in the FEO society.

If wealthy parents provide high-quality day care and nursery school and private tutoring for their children, society arranges public education practices so that children of nonwealthy parents get the same or equivalent advantages. In the same spirit, if some parents, rich or poor, are more strongly motivated than others to help their children get ahead in life, these efforts are somehow exactly offset, so having the good luck to have especially concerned parents does not affect one's comparative life prospects. The end result is that one can try to give one's own children a leg up in social competition, but whatever boost one provides will be met by a similar boost provided for other children whose native talent is the same as that of one's own children.

In passing it should be noted that when better-off parents provide various amounts of special boost for their children, FEO taken strictly and literally requires that whatever is the maximal special aid provided for individuals with a certain genetic talent endowment and ambition, the equivalent of that aid must also be provided to all other individuals, including individuals of better-off parents who are getting less than the maximal aid. FEO as characterized here is a demanding ideal. What if FEO becomes impossible to satisfy if inequalities in outcome become too extreme? In that case FEO requires extinguishing any inequalities in outcome among members of one generation that would bring it about that FEO cannot be satisfied among members of subsequent generations.

In the Rawlsian system of nested and hierarchically ordered principles, FEO has less priority than the basic equal liberties principle. If FEO could be satisfied only by encroaching on free speech or the right to vote or other basic liberties, then according to Rawls it should give way.

Up to conflict with equal basic liberties, FEO rules the roost. FEO might be adopted in conjunction with formal equality of opportunity or by itself as a freestanding moral requirement. The difference between FEO alone and FEO paired with formal equality of opportunity emerges when one pictures a society that satisfies FEO but not formal equality of opportunity.

A society might be composed equally of members of two hostile groups, who discriminate against each other at every opportunity. If the groups command the same amount of economic resources, it could happen that formal equality of opportunity is always violated, because in every context of interaction people favor members of their own group regardless of their qualifications.

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If men discriminate against women, and women against men, these effects might counterbalance so that freestanding FEO is still satisfied. The following discussion of FEO for the most part interprets it as an inclusive doctrine containing formal equality of opportunity.

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Fair equality of opportunity can seem an inspiring ideal or a nightmarish vision reminiscent of George Orwell's The ideal of a classless society that has shed all trace of caste hierarchy is inspiring to many. But any scheme to implement FEO would apparently require extensive meddling by government or some other agent of society in family life, and such meddling can appear nightmarish Fishkin The negative response to the prospect of implementation of FEO might not reflect rejection of the principle itself but merely a sense that this ideal should not be pursued wholeheartedly whatever the cost to other values.

Equality of opportunity is typically advanced as a justice value, and the mark of justice norms is that they take priority over others. Even so, equality of opportunity might be one among several justice norms, and not the top-rated. One might also question the assumption that the pursuit of FEO could not proceed to a significant extent without invasive interference in family life.

For example, society could resolve to devote far greater resources to the education of children of poor and uneducated parents than to the education of other children.