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«Martin Frank University of Bremen Institut for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) Paper prepared for the ECPR-workshop on Equality of ...»

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If this is right, then the whole constellation has to be considered at once. Quebec is a good illustration. Assuming for the sake of argument that the granted self-governmental possibilities and measures securing the French language and culture might be justified with Kymlicka´s theory, this fact of different opportunities will challenge the relations of the First Nations (within Quebec) to the Canadian majority. Since political opportunities are involved, the balance of power is shifted at their expense. They have no unequal opportunities vis-á-vis the Canadian majority and vis-á-vis the Quebec minority. Perhaps they suffered no disadvantages before the change, but after it they possibly will. And they will do so because the more encompassing constellation was not taken into consideration in the first place. If one tries to deal with the new Canadian majority – First Nations-relation in the independent and sequential way, that is in disregard of the Quebec case, there is a considerable likelihood to get the things really wrong.

c. Suppose there are various minorities of different size and power. As in the case of confederations, there is no reason to suppose that these differences cannot have disadvantageous effects between these groups. It is also impossible to exclude the possibility One could perhaps think of Switzerland, Belgium, Lebanon etc.

of situations of inter-minority competition. But the majority cannot then function as the reference point for these comparisons. Moreover, it is probable, that various and varying base lines could be identified. To neglect such problems has to be interpreted as a serious deficiency of an encompassing theory of intercultural justice.

IV. Conclusion

In this essay the issue of equal opportunity for groups or collectives was raised, but not adressed in a direct way. It was throughout assumed that groups and organizations may be proper subjects of the equality of opportunity principle. The question whether there are any peculiarities in justification and application in the case of collectives was not examined.

Instead, a rather technical view of equality of opportunity was proposed which started with the determination of the its proper places and tasks in a theory of distributive justice. In this context, the restricted functions and the formal and procedural character was emphasised.

Second, throughout the text, the central role of political decision-making in defining contexts and establishing competitions was mentioned. Third, it was argued that the equality of opportunity principle has only a loose connection to meriticratic principles. The view that equality of opportunity is identical with or contains meritocracy was rejected. This is another aspect why the conception is restricted. Finally, the relation of intercultural justice and equality of opportunity was examined and a constallation view of justice proposed. The constellation conception does not only take the different forms of cultural pluralism into account, but make the thinking about justice more complicated.

References Arneson, R. 2002:"Equality of Opportunity" in: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Barry, B. 2001: Culture and Equality. An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism.


Barry, B. 2005: Why Social Justice Matters. Cambridge.

Cavanagh, M. 2002: Against Equality of Opportunity. Oxford.

Gosepath, S. 2004: Gleiche Gerechtigkeit. Grundlagen eines liberalen Egalitarismus.


Kymlicka, W. 1995: Multicultural Citizenship. Oxford.

Ladwig, B. 2000: Gerechtigkeit und Verantwortung. Eine Studie zum Gleichheitsverständnis des ethischen Liberalismus. Berlin.

Margalit, A./Halbertal, M. 1994: "Liberalism and the Right to Culture" in: Social Research.


Richards, J. R.1998: "Equality of Opportunity" in: Mason, A. (ed.): Ideals of Equality.


Schaar, J.H. 1997: "Equality of Opportunity, and Beyond" in: Pojman, L.P./Westmoreland, R.

(ed.): Equality. Selected Readings. New York.

Walzer, M.: On Toleration.

Westen, P. 1997: "The Concept of Equal Opportunity" in: Pojman, L.P./Westmoreland, R.

(ed.): Equality. Selected Readings. New York.

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