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  Editor's Note

According to some critics of the modern welfare state, it just can't be trusted to do any good: "nice theory, bad practice." Other critics reject the theory itself, which they see as an egalitarianism hostile to individual responsibility. John Roemer's lead article strikes back at this philosophical critique. He offers an ideal of equal opportunity that would accommodate individual responsibility while also leading (in all likelihood) to considerably greater equality of outcome.

Writing in reply to Roemer, a group of philosophers, political theorists, economists, and lawyers asks whether his scheme is practically workable, his conception of equal opportunity compelling, or his account of responsibility plausible. The issues remain unsettled, but the exchange opens the kind of debate we need now on the meaning and implications of egalitarianism. _______________________________________________________________

Friend's Page note: To: Readers

From: Josh Cohen

Re: 20 years, Part II

We are now happily settled in our new quarters in the MIT political science department. On behalf of everyone at the Review, I would like to thank the department -- especially the chairman, Dick Samuels -- and MIT for providing such spectacular accommodations. The food was better in Chinatown, but culinary decline is the price we had to pay for getting our offices out of Boston's Combat Zone.

I have tried to resist the usual fundraising pitch, but asking for money is like killing: do it once and you lose all your inhibitions. So here goes: it is our 20th anniversary and donations are off to a very slow start this year. In the age of Contract politics there is an especially compelling need for a magazine committed to debate on issues of democratic thought and practice. I hope you will help us with a generous tax-deductible contribution.

Contributor's Note:

Rachel Jacoff is chair of the Italian Department at Wellesley and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Dante.

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