Reading bedtime stories to compatriots: Reconciling global equality of opportunity and self-determination

Ayelet Banai, Eszter Kollar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we propose a reconciliation between global equality of opportunity and self-determination, two central and seemingly conflicting principles in the contemporary theory of global justice. Our conception of reconciliation draws on the family-people analogy, following the account of familial relationship goods, developed by Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift, on permissible parental partiality and domestic equality of opportunity. We argue, first, that a plausible conception of global equality of opportunity must be able to distinguish morally arbitrary aspects of nationality that require mitigation from morally permissible ones. Second, we argue that a plausible criterion for the distinction integrates a person's normative interests over a lifetime: (i) the interests of a child born into societal circumstances that impact her life prospects; and (ii) the interests of an adult citizen in collective self-determination. Third, we outline an account of 'people relationship goods', as a principled way to circumscribe the permissible scope of self-determination. Fair global equality of opportunity requires mitigating nationality-tracking inequalities, except those that fall within the permissible scope of collective self-determination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-386
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For support of our research and the coauthorship, Eszter Kollar is grateful to the Excellence Cluster, The Formation of Normative Orders (DFG), Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. Ayelet Banai is grateful to the Israel Science Foundation research grant (no. 1127/16) and to a visiting fellowship from the Chair of International Political Theory, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 British International Studies Association.


  • Family Values
  • Family-people Analogy
  • Global Equality of Opportunity
  • Legitimate Partiality
  • Reconciliation
  • Relationship Goods
  • Self-Determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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