Rather the dominant logic of the concept of equality

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Rather, the dominant logic of the concept of equality of op- portunity is negatively defined in relation to a counter-factual sociological claim; there would be equality of opportunity, and hence inter-racial harmony, if the one factor that most pro- vokes inter-racial distrust and conflict could be eliminated: racial discrimination. The concept thus relies on a sociological thesis about the origin of public disorder and strife in an inter- racial society; together with a normative ideal or end-point – public order – which the removal of these problems would assure. Time and time again, in the development of race rela- tions legislation during the 1960s, the fear of public disorder built up by cycles of discrimination, and the social deprivation it caused, was cited as a justification. 24 The five functions of race relations law identified by the Race Relations Board in its
Britain: Multicultural Race Relations 117 first annual report in 1967 cite consequentialist reasons rather than deontological criteria of fairness or justice as reasons: 1. A law is an unequivocal declaration of public policy. 2. A law gives support to those who do not wish to discriminate, but who feel compelled to do so by social pressure. 3. A law gives protection and redress to minority groups. 4. A law thus provides for the peaceful and orderly adjustment of grievances and the release of tensions. 5. A law reduces prej- udice by discouraging the behaviour in which prejudice finds expression. 25 The justification this expresses is that equality of opportunity is the right or just legislation to follow because it is the best way to achieve a certain end; not because it expresses some deeper constitutive or moral equality of persons. Similarly, ar- guments in the early days which put an accent on ensuring welfare levels for ethnic minorities did so for consequentialist, not rights-based, reasons; one of the reasons why, as time has gone on, it has been easy to drop or overlook this aspect of the philosophy of integration in policy practices. In pure philosophical terms, this kind of argument for fair- ness is of course highly contestable; most Anglo-American po- litical philosophy in a Rawlsian vein has spent the last thirty years trying to show why equality should be based on rights and justice. However, in British politics, consequentialism is always the preferred mode of justification found in the legisla- tion and public reflection. A good illustration of how this thinking is applied practically is the Scarman report of 1981, one of the central defining moments of the British philosophy towards these problems. 26 It is a report which seeks to draw empirical and moral lessons from what were the worst inner city riots in modern British history. Scarman’s strategy is twofold: first, to set up a normative ideal as the central aim of legislation and policing, reading the riots as ‘aberrations’ from this standard; second, to identify the reasons and conditions for the riots breaking out, and hence the best way to re-estab- lish the ideal state.

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