Educational policy and discussion, in Britain and the USA, are increasingly dominated by the confused ideology of egalitarianism. David E. Cooper begins by identifying the principles hidden among the confusions, and argues that these necessarily conflict with the ideal of educational excellence - in which conflict it is this ideal that must be preserved. He goes on to criticize the use of education as a tool for promoting wider social equality, focussing especially on the muddles surrounding 'equal opportunities', 'social mix' and 'reverse discrimination'. Further chapters criticize the 'new egalitarianism' favoured, on epistemological grounds, by various sociologists of knowledge in recent years and 'cultural egalitarianism' according to which standard criteria of educational value merely reflect parochial and economic interests.
David E Cooper is Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus) at Durham University, having previously taught at the universities of Oxford, Miami and London. He has been a Visiting Professor in the USA, Canada, Germany, Malta, South Africa and Sri Lanka and the Chair of several learned societies, including The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.