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Opportunity Hoarding IV: Rules of the Game

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As noted in previous essays, competition over opportunities is almost certainly unavoidable and can even be desirable. However, this competition can do more harm than good. One example of this is opportunity hoarding.  Opportunity hoarding occurs when parents try to seek advantages for their children in ways that are harmful to others. As would be suspected, opportunity hoarding typically occurs when parents use morally problematic methods to secure advantages for their children at the expense of other children. An excellent example of this is the 2019 college admissions scandal and I will use this to set the stage for the discussion. Image Credit As many writing about the scandal pointed out, the rich have many legal means of tipping the admission scales in favor of their children. These include methods that have nothing to do with the merit of the applicant, such as the use of legacy admissions and making financial contributions to the institutions. Other methods aim at improving the quality of the applicant (or at least the application). These methods include paid test preparation courses, paid counselors, paid tutors, and paid essay coaches. Because the rich have so many advantages already, the admission scandal seemed especially egregious and somewhat perplexing. From a philosophical perspective, the scandal raises an interesting general moral question about what methods are acceptable in the competition over opportunities and which are not. While some might consider a state of nature approach to this competition (a war against all with no limit on the means), this would be clear violation of our moral intuitions. After all, while we might disagree on specific limits, we almost certainly agree that there are limits. To illustrate, the murder of competing children would seem to be obviously unacceptable as would other horrible things like blinding or maiming to weaken the competition. But once the obviously horrific is out of the way, there. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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