Fairness: the practicability of the principle

21 August 2020

Jeff McCarty

Ensuring that every human being can meaningfully contribute to society to help in positively progressing the human species means that we must each find a role that we are connected to. As detailed in our previous post, one potential pitfall to idealistic thinking of this nature is that there is room for some human beings to contribute unequally and unfairly compared to other human beings. This, of course, is an understandable fear, and with a society consisting of those who are apathetic to solving problems facing humanity and another portion who are overly focused on personal pleasure through the means of materialism it is easy to see why a concern of fairness may exist among human beings who reside in those frames of minds just detailed as well in the minds of those who passionately work to solve problems facing humanity. Yet we may find ourselves overwhelmed due to the daunting nature of the task, which solidifies the importance of every human being doing their part. Regardless of which describes yourself, or if you fall under another state of mind when contemplating the problems facing humanity, the principle of fairness is bound to be a concern and a principle that seemingly everyone would want to uphold. Before we can properly define what each human beings’ fair contribution may consist of, we must examine the principle of fairness in itself.

What is fairness? If we had to explain the concept in the most simplistic form, we would define it as the principle of everything should equal the same. That though is a very broad definition to apply, especially given our purpose of understanding fairness to help us inspire humans to contribute to their species. This is the problematic issue with fairness though, that it is a broad concept that we as human beings have come to expect, yet one may argue that fairness is a construct of human consciousness that is more of a subjective belief rather than an objective reality. Where has this concept of fairness arisen from? Looking through the lens of our hunter and gatherer ancestors we could imagine concerns of fairness arising if a member of the tribe was withholding food or trying to egregiously obtain more than their share. Regardless of exactly when it occurred, it is safe to say that the principle of fairness has become engrained in humanity’s culture.

Fairness as a principle is essentially a universally agreed-upon ideal when talking in abstract constructs. Converting the principle of fairness into the practice of being fair is a process that seems to be of a more difficult caliber though. What creates this friction when putting the principle of fairness into practice? To answer this question, it is important to understand the two viewpoints in which fairness is perceived. For clarity and identifiability, we will label this as the fairness paradigm.

The first viewpoint of the fairness paradigm is when you are on the side being deprived. This is the easiest viewpoint to spot inequality or injustice that is causing a disparity to fairness. When we see fairness from this viewpoint, we easily spot it out do to the fact we are personally experiencing a systemic withholding of either resources, opportunity, or status that we feel some entitlement towards. The second viewpoint that you can see fairness from is from the viewpoint of the endowed. From this viewpoint, you have an abundance of either resources, opportunity, or status and you see the difference between yourself and those with the first viewpoint. Within this viewpoint, there are two subsets of reactions that one may have. They are either bound to work to reconcile the difference between themselves and the other by sharing the abundance to close the gap, or they have the option to defensively protect their abundance and look to further the gap.

With an understanding of these two viewpoints of fairness, we can begin to comprehend the perceptions we have as a species on the principle of fairness, and that our reaction to fairness is based upon which viewpoint we hold. As a human being though when you begin to observe the universe and the natural order of systems on planet earth, I cannot help but conclude the following on the premise of fairness itself. That fairness is a construct of humanity that does not display itself in the natural universe. When we look around the universe for the existence of life in itself, we see that there is no fair distribution. When we look at the natural systems that rule our planet there is no natural system that fairly treats each player. This brings us to the conclusion that although we should strive to live by the principle of fairness, we should never come to expect fairness as a natural element of existence.

How does this correlate to the question initially posed? How do we ensure that we each contribute fairly to society? This though is the fallacy of fairness, that we expect ourselves to reach an equilibrium where each human being will contribute equally. This may sound discouraging, and beg the question of why even try in the first place to build a better society? As human beings though, we must recognize our higher abilities as a species to potentially earn a better civilization that empowers every member of its species. If we hold on to a fleeting hope that we can only achieve a better global civilization when everyone contributes equally, then we would never obtain that achievement. We must remember that we are each a unique individual who has varying skills, and each will be able to contribute to society in different manners. Rather than worry about giving an equal contribution to society, I will implore you to focus on a different question. What is the best way that you can contribute to society? Please share the ways you feel you can give your best contribution to society in the comments.

Until next time, I am Jeff McCarty and I just want to thank you for your time in reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share this with someone you think would enjoy it. Find the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition on Facebook for more content as well. Looking forward to seeing you next post. Thanks again.

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