Egalitarianism proposes that everyone should have same access to political and civil rights, but does that mean include equal opportunity?

  • 1
    Equal opportunity is not enough for egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is all about equal outcomes. A race is not egalitarian just because all the runners start at the same line; the runners finish at different times which is evidence of inequality. Egalitarianism, as Fontue puts it, is the construction of an input that creates an equal output. So the runners would start at different places to finish at the same time, as is egalitarian. Dec 3, 2018 at 19:26
  • In practice it's concerned with actual equal opportunity. It's no good suggesting that since the law permits any citizen to become prime minister we all have equal opportunity.. when statistically only upper middle class people become PM. It's about smashing legal impediments and glass ceilings.
    – Richard
    Dec 3, 2018 at 19:51
  • it means different things for different philosophers. you could look into rawl's veil of ignorance if you want one view
    – user35983
    Dec 3, 2018 at 20:54
  • Egalitarianism is a protean doctrine, because there are several different types of equality, or ways in which people might be treated the same, or might relate as equals, that might be thought desirable.
    – user35983
    Dec 4, 2018 at 6:18
  • @EternalPropagation Do you mean Equality of Outcome than? That would be problematic since it makes no difference with communism.. Dec 4, 2018 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


All political terms are open to a variety of meanings. Suppose we take egalitarianism in this sense :


The egalitarianism I have in mind has as its ideal a condition of equal well- being for all persons at the highest possible level of well-being, i.e. maximum equal well-being. Egalitarianism holds that society should be arranged so as to promote and maintain this state. (Bruce M. Landesman, 'Egalitarianism', Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 1983), pp. 27-56: 27.)

This is wider than your definition but I think it is closer to the general sense of 'egalitarianism' in political philosophy; I don't see egalitarianism as restricted to political and civil rights. What about economic equality ?

Equality of opportunity

Equality of opportunity means that (at least in theory) everyone starts from the same base point, with no-one enjoying initial advantages. However the logic of equality of opportunity is that it is opportunity to achieve advantaged positions. We can introduce safety-net rules so that the losers under equality of opportunity don't fall below a certain minimum condition. We can also set upper limits to the permissible inequalities not to exceed certain limits.

But there is no logical or empirical connection between equality of opportunity as the initial state and the end-state of equal well-being for all persons

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