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Rather, the dominant logic of the concept of equality of op-portunity is negatively defined in relation to a counter-factualsociological claim; there would be equality of opportunity, andhence 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 sociologicalthesis 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 wouldassure. Time and time again, in the development of race rela-tions legislation during the 1960s, the fear of public disorderbuilt up by cycles of discrimination, and the social deprivationit caused, was cited as a justification.24The five functions ofrace relations law identified by the Race Relations Board in its
Britain: Multicultural Race Relations117first annual report in 1967 cite consequentialist reasons ratherthan deontological criteria of fairness or justice as reasons:1. A law is an unequivocal declaration of public policy. 2. Alaw gives support to those who do not wish to discriminate,but who feel compelled to do so by social pressure. 3. A lawgives protection and redress to minority groups. 4. A lawthus provides for the peaceful and orderly adjustment ofgrievances and the release of tensions. 5. A law reduces prej-udice by discouraging the behaviour in which prejudicefinds expression.25The justification this expresses is that equality of opportunityis the right or just legislation to follow because it is the bestway to achieve a certain end; not because it expresses somedeeper constitutive or moral equality of persons. Similarly, ar-guments in the early days which put an accent on ensuringwelfare levels for ethnic minorities did so for consequentialist,not rights-based, reasons; one of the reasons why, as time hasgone on, it has been easy to drop or overlook this aspect of thephilosophy 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 thirtyyears trying to show why equality should be based on rightsand justice. However, in British politics, consequentialism isalways the preferred mode of justification found in the legisla-tion and public reﬂection. A good illustration of how thisthinking is applied practically is the Scarman report of 1981,one of the central defining moments of the British philosophytowards these problems.26It is a report which seeks to drawempirical and moral lessons from what were the worst innercity riots in modern British history. Scarman’s strategy istwofold: first, to set up a normative ideal as the central aim oflegislation and policing, reading the riots as ‘aberrations’ fromthis standard; second, to identify the reasons and conditionsfor the riots breaking out, and hence the best way to re-estab-lish the ideal state.