Should the Best Qualified Be Appointed?

in Journal of Moral Philosophy
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The paper examines the view that individuals have a claim to the jobs for which they are the best qualified. It seeks to show this view to be groundless, and to offer, instead, a luck egalitarian account of justice in hiring. That account consists of three components: monism, non-meritocracy, and non-discrimination. To demonstrate the coherence of this view, two particular internal conflicts are addressed. First, luck egalitarian monism (the view that jobs are not special) may end up violating the non-discrimination requirement. Second, non-discrimination, it is often suggested, cannot be defined without reference to qualifications, thus violating the non-meritocracy requirement. The paper seeks to address these, as well as other, potential objections, and show that whereas meritocratic accounts are without basis, luck egalitarianism provides a coherent and attractive account of justice in hiring.

Should the Best Qualified Be Appointed?

in Journal of Moral Philosophy

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References

1

 See David MillerPrinciples of Social Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press1999) ch. 8; George Sher ‘Qualification Fairness and Desert’ in N. Bowie (ed.) Equal Opportunity (Boulder CO: Westview 1988); Andrew Mason ‘Equality of Opportunity Old and New’ Ethics 111 (2001) 760-781.

2

E. g. Matt CavanaghAgainst Equality of Opportunity (Oxford: Oxford University Press2002).

3

 See MillerPrinciples of Social Justice p. 137. Miller's position it should be noted represents a mix between the forward-looking concerns of merit and the backward-looking concerns of desert.

4

John RawlsA Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press1971) p. 84.

7

 See also Richard J. Arneson‘Against Rawlsian Equality of Opportunity,’ Philosophical Studies 93 (1999) p. 97; Mason Levelling the Playing Field p. 85.

8

MasonLevelling the Playing Field pp. 56-64; George Sher Approximate Justice: Studies in Non-Ideal Theory (Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield 1997) p. 128.

10

Arneson‘Against Rawlsian Equality of Opportunity’ p. 97.

15

 See for example John E. RoemerEquality of Opportunity (Cambridge, MA; London, England: Harvard University Press1998) p. 1.

16

 See G.A. CohenRescuing Justice and Equality (Cambridge, MA, and London, England: Harvard University Press2008) ch. 6.

17

Mason‘Equality of Opportunity Old and New’ pp. 780-781.

22

 See RoemerEquality of Opportunity p. 85. Notice that the duty to appoint qualified doctors is one owed to patients and not to the (aspiring) surgeons and second that it is doubtful that this implies a duty to appoint the best qualified. See also Cavanagh's discussion of this point. Against Equality of Opportunity p. 65.

23

MasonLevelling the Playing Field p. 154. See also Jonathan Wolff ‘Fairness Respect and the Egalitarian Ethos’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1998) p. 117; Jonathan Wolff and Avner de Shalit Disadvantage (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007) pp. 28-9.

27

 See also Richard Arneson‘Equality of Opportunity,’ The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy§6.

29

MasonLevelling the Playing Field pp. 29-30.

30

Alan Wertheimer‘Jobs, Qualifications, and Preferences,’ Ethics 94 (1983) p. 99.

31

Lesley A. JacobPursuing Equal Opportunities: The Theory and Practice of Egalitarian Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2004) p. 111.

32

Arneson‘Against Rawlsian Equality of Opportunity’ p. 79; Cavanagh Against Equality of Opportunity p. 194.

33

Wertheimer‘Jobs Qualifications and Preferences’ p. 102.

34

 See Mason‘Equality of Opportunity Old and New’ p. 776; Miller Principles of Social Justice p. 169.

36

Larry Alexander‘What Makes Wrongful Discrimination Wrong? Biases, Preferences, Stereotypes, and Proxies,’ University of Pennsylvania Law Review 141 (1992) p. 151.

38

 See also Lippert-Rasmussen‘Reaction Qualifications Revisited’ pp. 415-6.

39

Wertheimer‘Jobs Qualifications and Preferences’ p. 103.

42

DworkinA Matter of Principle p. 318.

48

 See for example CavanaghAgainst Equality of Opportunity pp. 195-6; Miller Principles of Social Justice pp. 168-9.

56

 See CavanaghAgainst Equality of Opportunity p. 134.

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