Equal opportunity is a widely shared ideal. As Joe Biden put it in his first executive order as president, “equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy.”
But is equal opportunity enough? Does it truly capture the meaning of equality? In a neoliberal age that prizes personal responsibility and individual merit, the ideal has been increasingly called into question. Taking equality seriously, critics argue, means aiming to ensure that we all live equally flourishing lives—not merely that we have equal shots at upward mobility. That means rethinking a range of social institutions, from education and land ownership to finance and neighborhood development. Featuring work by philosophers and economists, historians and sociologists, this issue explores the importance of outcomes, not just opportunities.