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  1. #1

    Question How do you decide what you call "fair"?

    This is posed along similar lines as the question I posed to start this thread.

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  2. #2
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    This is posed along similar lines as the question I posed to start this thread.
    I don't know quite how to address your question, except to observe as C.S. Lewis did in Mere Christianity that, whatever we think of as 'fair,' we all understand the concept of 'fair.' Humans seem to have an inborn sense of justice that makes its appearance as early as the age of three. I think it's a trait of the species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon67 View Post
    I don't know quite how to address your question, except to observe as C.S. Lewis did in Mere Christianity that, whatever we think of as 'fair,' we all understand the concept of 'fair.' Humans seem to have an inborn sense of justice that makes its appearance as early as the age of three. I think it's a trait of the species.
    Usually it seems to start with what is "fair for me," however. It tends to ignore "what is fair for others."
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    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Usually it seems to start with what is "fair for me," however. It tends to ignore "what is fair for others."
    Yes, that is true, just as a child of three doesn't walk or talk as well as someone further along in his or her development...but the fact that this is true does not by any means prove that three-year-olds do not walk or talk.

    So while the child's sense of 'fair' may be fairly rudimentary, he does nevertheless have one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon67 View Post
    Yes, that is true, just as a child of three doesn't walk or talk as well as someone further along in his or her development...but the fact that this is true does not by any means prove that three-year-olds do not walk or talk.
    That's just an analogy. It doesn't prove at all whether "a sense of fairness" is in the same category as walking/talking, it just notes that it COULD be true.

    :P

    (Although I'd probably agree with you. But I have to keep the logic pure here, you know.)
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    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    That's just an analogy. It doesn't prove at all whether "a sense of fairness" is in the same category as walking/talking, it just notes that it COULD be true.

    :P

    (Although I'd probably agree with you. But I have to keep the logic pure here, you know.)
    To continue this line of reasoning, it seems to me that in a healthy child, his sense of fairness expands with his sense of personhood. As a toddler, children are typically extremely self-centered, and part of what they learn in their third year of life is that they are not after all the center of the universe. As children come to internalize that other people are indeed people to the same degree that the child himself is a person, the concept of 'fair' also applies to those people, and so increases in the complexity of its application.

    My seven-year-old will agree that he can do without a cookie, provided that none of his siblings get cookies either. My two-year-old, however, wants her cookie regardless, and mostly doesn't care if the others get cookies or not.

    The check on this would be to ascertain whether development of the concept of fairness is arrested in people who never make that leap of understanding that other people are in fact people. Does the autistic person or the psychopath (and I DO NOT mean to equate the two) have a modified or stunted sense of what is 'fair' due to his or her condition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon67 View Post
    To continue this line of reasoning, it seems to me that in a healthy child, his sense of fairness expands with his sense of personhood. As a toddler, children are typically extremely self-centered, and part of what they learn in their third year of life is that they are not after all the center of the universe. As children come to internalize that other people are indeed people to the same degree that the child himself is a person, the concept of 'fair' also applies to those people, and so increases in the complexity of its application.
    In general, it seems to be the process of differentiation.

    When the child is born, it is "one" with the mother. The mother is merely an extension of itself. In such a mindset, "fair" does not exist because everything "is" the child.

    As the child ages, it becomes aware that the mother is a separate entity (hopefully) and begins the detachment process (resulting in the "roving" behavior where the child will wander from the mother figure if he feels secure, but needs to come back constantly for reassurance).

    The more differentiation occurs, the more that "fairness" can come into play. You cannot be fair if you are essentially solipsist in nature.

    What's sort of funny is the cycle that people go through. At first, we think everything is "us" and so take care of "us." Then we differentiate and exclude those who are "not us." Then we come back around (or perhaps we never really left?) and broaden our relational web so that others are incorporated into "us" as independent individuals. (Isn't that what love is? Treating other people as we'd treat ourselves, rather than excluding them as Other? There is "us" -- not "me." And the broader the web, the more philanthropic or loving the person?)

    The check on this would be to ascertain whether development of the concept of fairness is arrested in people who never make that leap of understanding that other people are in fact people. Does the autistic person or the psychopath (and I DO NOT mean to equate the two) have a modified or stunted sense of what is 'fair' due to his or her condition?
    I do not know. Maybe Cafe or someone else can answer that more adequately?

    I think sensitivity to others -- the ability to see them as part of "us" while still remaining unique and independent -- results in fairness and even actions of love.
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    I believe that fairness is punishment that is equal to the significance of one's crime, and reward equal to the value of one's work. I define those values in terms of a subjective scale based on my perception of the opinions of the majority of human beings. However, I wish to note that my idea of fairness doesn't necessarily match my idea of right and wrong, which is much more subjective, and based on my own guessing.

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    There's too many situations for me to detail in this one post. But I would say, for example, that a "fair" interaction is one where all of the participants benefit, and that no participant has a ginormously large benefit over any of the others (although benefits do not have to be equal either).
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    There's too many situations for me to detail in this one post. But I would say, for example, that a "fair" interaction is one where all of the participants benefit, and that no participant has a ginormously large benefit over any of the others (although benefits do not have to be equal either).
    I agree, especially because not everyone will have the same requirements/desires.
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