Don’t Be Deceived by Calls for Fairness

Interesting essay posted at The Chronicle Review titled In Defense of Favoritism.

Written by Stephen T. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, the essay is well worth taking the time to read.  A couple of excerpts.

Fairness, however, is not the be-all and end-all standard for justice, nor is it the best measure of our social lives. As a philosopher, I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of conceptual confusion in our use of fairness. And though we’re hearing a lot of the language of fairness hurled around lately in political rhetoric, it often hinders real conversation and debate more than it helps. Most people, for example, assume that the opposite of fairness is selfishness, and since selfishness is manifestly terrible, no one but a hapless Ayn Rand devotee would be so foolish as to critique fairness. But the real opposite of fairness is favoritism—filial, tribal, nepotistic partiality—not egoistic selfishness. If that’s true, then a lot of us—on the left and the right—are unwitting daily sinners against fairness. And that’s not a bad thing…

Teaching kids to share and calling it fairness is at best a confusion and at worst a deception. A similar bait-and-switch in contemporary childhood education is teaching kids to appreciate diversity but erroneously calling this virtue of open-mindedness fairness. Those two values are so commonly confused that any critique is immediately met with charges of prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, and bigotry. But having favorites and having an open mind about differences are not mutually exclusive…

In short, favoritism or bias toward your group is not intrinsically racist, sexist, or closed-minded. Privileging your tribe does not render you negative or bigoted toward those outside your tribe…

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

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