Ethics and Moral Philosophy

The radical moral implications of luck in human life

In July 2018 (when we first published this piece), there was a minor uproar when Kardashian scion Kylie Jenner, who is all of 21, appeared on the cover of Forbes’s 60 richest self-made women issue. As many people pointed out, Jenner’s success would have been impossible if she hadn’t been born white, healthy, rich, and famous. She built a successful cosmetics company—now valued at $900 million, according to Forbes—not just with hard work but on a towering foundation of good luck.

The case against equality of opportunity

Everyone wants equality of opportunity. It is not a subject of political debate, but the precondition of political debate. Promises to achieve equality of opportunity, like promises to create jobs or protect America abroad, are the white noise of campaign season, drawing neither notice nor challenge. Respected think tanks like the Brookings Institution establish entire projects devoted to figuring out how to advance equality of opportunity. Raj Chetty and Emmanuel Saez, two of the best microeconomists of their generation, have joined forces to start the Equality of Opportunity Project, which is meant to produce hard numbers about opportunity across time and across regions.

Luck Egalitarianism

Luck egalitarianism is a family of egalitarian theories of distributive justice that aim to counteract the distributive effects of luck. This article explains luck egalitarianism's main ideas, and the debates that have accompanied its rise to …

In Defence of Luck Egalitarianism

This paper considers issues raised by Elizabeth Anderson’s recent critique of the position she terms ‘luck egalitarianism’. It is maintained that luck egalitarianism, once clarified and elaborated in certain regards, remains the strongest egalitarian …

Egalitarianism, Option Luck, and Responsibility

In this article, I defend two claims. First, I argue that differential option luck is bad from the point of view of equality. Indeed, mutatis mutandis my argument challenges the apparently commonsense view (normally accepted by both egalitarians and …

Equality of Opportunity

Roemer argues that there is consequently a “before” and an “after” in the notion of equality of opportunity: before the competition starts, opportunities must be equalized, by social intervention if need be; but after it begins, individuals are on their own. The different views of equal opportunity should be judged according to where they place the starting gate which separates “before” from “after.” Roemer works out in a precise way how to determine the location of the starting gate in the different views.


Equality has long been among the most potent of human ideals and it continues to play a prominent role in political argument. Views about equality inform much of the debate about wide-ranging issues such as racism, sexism, obligations to the poor or …