Journal of Applied Philosophy - Early View Articles

Equal Opportunity and the Family: Levelling Up the Brighouse‐Swift Thesis

Published online on Jul 25, 2017


Although liberal political philosophers have long recognised the tension between equal opportunity and the family, most have assumed there is little society can do to mitigate it. Brighouse and Swift argue, by contrast, that an analysis of the value of the family reveals limits on the rights of parents to benefit their children and hence points to a way to reconcile the family with equal opportunity. Their solution for resolving the tension between equal opportunity and the family, however, leads to some untenable conclusions. A better solution for promoting equal opportunity in the family is to level up the opportunities that less advantaged parents have to promote the development and wellbeing of their children so that they are on par with the opportunities of the most advantaged parents. Five strategies are outlined for achieving this goal. Once society has provided all parents with real opportunities to fulfil their fiduciary duties, Brighouse and Swift's argument for limited parental partiality can be applied without contradiction. The result is an alternate solution for mitigating the conflict between equal opportunity and the family in liberal political philosophy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1111/japp.12279 About DOI

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