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.
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.
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.
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.