explanation that ‘“social
advantage and disadvantage” conferred at birth is what shapes people’s
destinies’, which he calls the ‘SAD’ thesis (Saunders 2010, 3). For
convenience we can refer to Saunders’ own explanation as the ‘DIM’
thesis; that is, the Due to Innate Merit thesis.
As the title of his 1996 book Unequal But Fair? suggests, Saunders
argues that inequality is morally fair because those at the top of
society are more able people and deserve their rewards. He does,
however, accept that the opportunities leading to mobility outcomes
are inequitable and that
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There are also grounds for pessimism about the potential of people
in lower classes to be mobile, even if they benefit from these policies.
The logic of the DIM explanation of mobility is that the inheritable
abilities of those in the lower classes are weaker than those in the higher
classes; even if the playing field were more level, they would still mainly
turn out to be the losers. The alternative logic of the SADthesis is that
families have different social advantages: the offspring of those at the top
are better able to maintain their