Arguably the most influential conception of equality of opportunity in the philosophical literature is Equality of Opportunity for Welfare, or Luck Egalitarianism. The view promises to reconcile the moral equality of persons with a concern for responsibility. While Equality of Outcome may be thought to punish the prudent and reward the feckless, Equality of Opportunity for Welfare promises to hold people responsible for their shares. The canonical definition of the view is that for any two persons an inequality between them in terms of welfare (or resources) is just if and only if it emerges from their voluntary choices. To put the view in terms of our formula: All people are to face only the obstacle of their own choices to the achievement of equal welfare (or resources). The view makes sense of many of our intuitions. For example, victims of bad luck, those born with disabilities or who are severely harmed by natural disasters, are entitled to compensation. Meanwhile, those who gamble and lose are not owed compensation.
Some have argued that the view makes a fetish of distribution, focusing on individual shares of goods rather than on the relationships between citizens. Others claim that the operation of the principle would lead to stigma and other types of harsh treatment, such as shameful revelations, for those who make bad choices. Further questions that are raised concern whether our choices are genuinely free when our choice sets are determined by the society we are born into, which is not in our control, and whether it makes sense ever to hold children, who often have diminished capacities for choice, responsible in this way. For example, children who wish to play rather than work hard at school are not, it seems, responsible for their choice, at least up to a certain age or stage of development.