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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2012

John E. Roemer*
Yale University,


The formal theory of equality of opportunity emerged as a response – a friendly amendment – to Ronald Dworkin's (1981) characterization of resource egalitarianism, as defined by the allocation that would emerge from insurance contracts arrived at behind a thin veil of ignorance. This article compares several of the prominent versions of this response, put forth in the period 1993–2008. I argue that a generalization of Roemer's (1998) proposal is the most satisfactory approach. Inherent in that generalization is an indeterminism, which reflects a philosophical problem: that we do not know what comprise the ethically correct rewards to effort. The indeterminism should be resolved, I propose, by an ancillary theory which limits the degree of inequality which is acceptable.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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