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Levelling the Playing FieldThe Idea of Equal Opportunity and its Place in Egalitarian Thought$
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Andrew Mason

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264414.001.0001

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The Desert of the Best Qualified

The Desert of the Best Qualified

(p.39) CHAPTER 2 The Desert of the Best Qualified
Levelling the Playing Field

Andrew Mason (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the most obvious way of developing a meritocratic account, one in terms of the idea of desert. According to this approach, the best-qualified candidates should be appointed to advantaged social positions because they deserve to be, provided there is fair access to qualifications. David Miller's version of this approach is examined. He maintains that the best-qualified applicants for jobs deserve them because they are the most likely to come to deserve the rewards attached to them, at least when the market is functioning properly. Against this approach, it is argued that ordinary judgements about economic desert are sensitive to effort-making, not just achievement, and the degree of effort that people make corresponds in a highly imperfect way to their qualifications.

Keywords:   meritocratic account, desert, qualifications, social positions, judgements, David Miller

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