The concept of fairness

When and where is an expectation of fairness to be reasonably expected?

I know most of the rules in society are based on keeping things fair, we wait in lines first come first serve. Some companies base promotions on seniority along with qualifications. Families attempt to treat sibling fairly in most cases etc. Once we get out of controlled situations fairness seems to go out the window.

Attractive people, tall people, rich people, smart people all seem to receive preferential treatment in a lot of situations we encounter in life. In most cases we do whatever it is we can do to level the playing field by doing our best to fall into the categories of those who are generally treated better.

For a lot of us for reasons we feel are beyond our control fairness in society seems to be an unattainable dream. We go on through life just doing the best we can. Others will stay in a constant state of anger and resentment always demanding fairness usually to n avail.

 What is a health attitude regarding fairness?

In many of the great social injustices of the past few decades it would be impossible to “make good” the injustice as if it had never happened because injustice is a negative sum game. Even if we stop the injustice, the world is still worse off for it existing in the first place. People were denied opportunities they’re never going to get back, and in order to make that whole we would need to hurt people who have done nothing wrong themselves.

One exception is same sex marriage: one of the reasons that public opinion changed so quickly IMO is that the proponents were asking for simple equality without payback for past wrongs, and that’s easy to do. Whereas with other ongoing inequalities proponents of fairness argue, correctly, that implementing simple equality would not erase the past scars. Opponents of tipping the scales beyond simple equality argue, also correctly, that this would hurt innocent people more than they passively benefited. Both are true because inequality is a negative sum game.

Notice that these people have something other people want - good genes, good genes, money, and intelligence respectively.

I don’t know but let me start the ball rolling by suggesting people ask themselves, “Does the solution I am proposing discriminate against a group?” and if it does, then it’s probably unfair.

I think it is a healthy to accept that rewards don’t always go to the most deserving, while realizing you have to play the game anyway. However, that doesn’t mean numbing yourself to the pain of fairness. Someone who channels that anger into something beneficial is doing better than the person who lets themselves be walked over with a huge smile on their face.

[li]Don’t expect fairness, ever.[/li][li]When you observe unfairness, evaluate how best to move yourself into an advantageous position.[/li][li]Focus on the positive, consider that there are areas where you are treated better, rather than the areas where you are treated worse.[/li][/ul]

I second this.

Great advice!

We want the law to be blind, but people think somehow it should be fair. Fairness would require a lot of individual evaluation of circumstances that is impossible to achieve because people could never agree on what was fair. At best we will get equal treatment under the law, looking for fairness is now part of what is tearing this country apart. Everybody considers themselves a victim now because life has somehow treated them unfairly. Sure, life is plenty unfair, and in terms of public policy we don’t want unfairness, but we’re never going to have fairtopia and the goal of removing institutionalized inequality is getting lost.

Justice is not the same as equal application of laws.

Court cases are all about individual evaluation of circumstances; otherwise, robot judges would be a serious proposal that could be beneficially implemented tomorrow.

Do you consider yourself a victim now?

Who decided that removing institutionalized inequality was “the goal”, rather than one goal among many, or an intermediate goal?

Interestingly, dogs appear to understand the concept of fairness. In tests, dogs paid close attention when one dog did not receive a treat that other dogs received – even when the “cheated” dog wasn’t themselves.

I have no idea what you are talking about or how it relates to the question about fairness.

I have a new addition the family, a beagle. He eats dog food. My chihuahua was raised on roast beef and chicken every day for one meal and his dog food fills in the difference. Now I have to give them both roast beef and chicken or the beagle gets his feeling hurt. He doesn’t seem t to understand quantity so I just give him a little and he seems ok.

Icarus, it’s not always that simple. When the unfairness is against women or minorities, for instance, you can’t just maneuver yourself to be a white male. And when the disadvantages you’re unfairly given significantly outweigh the advantages you’ve been unfairly given, it’s not much comfort to consider that you have any advantages at all.

This seems to assume that the only advantageous position is being a white male.

Its amazing. I see this every day. Can’t give one dog a treat without the others getting one, too. Can’t pet one without the rest getting some love.

But, sometimes I can’t. Steak only has one bone. So, what I do, is toss it into their room from around the corner, so they don’t see where it is coming from. First dog to it gets it. But it wasn’t me playing favorites. :smiley:

Oh, the silly dog games that dictate my daily life…

I was brought up in a “life ain’t fair, kid” environment, and I don’t really care about fairness all that much, in the sense of equality of outcome. That said, I think we should strive to achieve equal opportunity, each according to their means and ability.