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Fair: can we agree on its meaning?

Misunderstandings without knowing what is misunderstood

I don't like I would be exaggerating by saying that at least 50% of the suffering in the world from inter-personal relationships (which, in some ways, is all relationships) is caused by the misunderstandings associated with the meaning of the word "fair" (and all it's derivatives).

First off, I would even claim that very few of us have a internally consistent in out ability to clearly define how we would know or measure "fair" behavior in various circumstances.

Leaving that issue aside, let's examine the many different, often conflicting ways that each of us may have for assessing what is fair. This list is not exhaustive, but we will quickly discover why the word and idea of "fair" is severely ambiguous.

Ways of assessing fairness

by neediness

by people being treated equally

by voluntary exchange of value

by following previously agreed to conditions

by equal sacrifice

by laws, rules, guideline, or regulations being followed

by following certain cultural accepted behaviors 

by respecting someone's autonomy to make personal choices

by not harming others

by applying consequences to another for violating the fairness of others

by getting value or consequences given by others because of a group one either belongs to, whether by birth, by choice, or by default

by what you're able to give

doing what some authority or seniority asks (parents, teacher, boss, commander)

first in line

reciprocating for what was given to me

what was given before should continue to be fair

what I had before I should have now to be fair

It would be fair because of my effort

It's fair because it was expected

To be treated with respect


Fair not to dishonor x

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