Quote of the Day – Fairness

…fairness isn’t an objective feature of the universe. It’s a concept that was invented so children and idiots can participate in arguments…

Scott Adams

Perhaps the extreme view, because who hasn’t made an appeal to fairness at some point.  But it is tough to come up with an example of “fair” that isn’t tied to a specific point of view.  Fair is always subjective.

So if, for example, you are facing people saying it isn’t fair to, say, compare SWTOR to WoW, it isn’t tough to figure out what is motivating them.

13 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Fairness

  1. bhagpuss

    Life may not be fair but many of us conduct our lives within legislative structures that have defined criteria for fairness, which they have both the power and will to enforce.

    It’s taken humans millennia to impose fairness on the universe and the task is ongoing.

    That aside, Scott Adams?!? If we’re going to quote from comic strips I prefer the classics:

    Dad: The world isn’t fair, Calvin.
    Calvin: I know, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?

    The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, p82-1

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – That Calvin & Hobbes quote is often the essence of my response when my daughter complains that something isn’t fair. I point out that, for the most part, life is pretty unfair in her favor and she ought not to push it.

    As for your initial statement, I would put forth that said defined criteria of fairness represents the majority view, but the tyranny of the majority, while more fair for the most part than simple tyranny, is still not objectively fair. The task is indeed incomplete and has been applied haphazardly at best around the world.

    We have a long long way to go.

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  3. Ahtchu

    All is fair… and is life not split equally between love and war? Or little highs and little battles, at least.

    Also: +1 internetz cool points for bhagpuss for the C&H reference.

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  4. Doone

    I know where you’re coming from in stating fair is subjective. In a broad sense, it is.

    But its much more nuanced than that and our desire for simple definitions leads us often to some un-good conclusions. There *is* such a thing as fair. The concept of fair is of even handedness, of justice. I don’t believe justice is subjective. Do you?

    Asking for fairness is asking for an even playing field, equal opportunity, standard rules. Its asking that no one receive an advantage. In comparing games like WoW and SWTOR, when players say “fair comparison” they mean discussing the game within certain criteria. In other words, compare high fantasy with high fantasy and sci-fi with sci-fi, just as an example.

    So far is only subjective in that the criteria for comparison has to be made standard and applicable to all subjects involved. But this doesn’t mean we get to have our own opinions about what is fair.

    That would be unfair.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Doone – I think it is just the opposite of what you are saying. Fairness is very easy for everybody to get behind when it is put out as a general concept.

    It is when you get down to details, when you try to define the mythical level playing field that it all falls apart because we all absolutely have, and are entitled to, opinions about what is fair.

    There is no absolute standard of fairness. Fairness is always an opinion, as is justice, since you brought it up. And I defy you to come up with any sort of specific example of something you consider to be “fair” that is not simply an opinion.

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  6. Carson

    Doone.. I think when people say it isn’t fair to compare SW:TOR to WoW they’re not talking about genres, they’re trying to wave away any way in which WoW is superior with “they’ve had seven years of refinement since release, it’s not fair to compare a brand new game to that.”

    And my response is always the same: I don’t give a damn whether it’s fair or not, my entertainment budget is going towards the game that entertains me the most, I’m not going to buy an inferior product just to be “fair” to it.

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  7. Stabs

    Funny, I must listen to different people to Carson. I thought the angle TAGN was coming from was bitter WOW players desperately clinging to a fading game complaining about people saying SWTOR is better.

    (Not that I’m saying it is, I have no clue at this point).

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  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Oh, I am sure there was plenty of that as well Stabs. The realms of unfairness know no bounds, while actual fairness remains a tiny glimmering light on the horizon, impossible to reach.

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  9. Tesh

    I’ve long believed that true fairness requires omniscience and omnipotence. As such, as limited creatures, we’re only ever going to be able to approximate it.

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  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I would also add on that, just because I believe fairness is a relative concept, it does not follow that I at all endorse the idea that the phrase “life isn’t fair” is some sort of get out of jail free card for asshat behavior. It is not.

    I am a strong believer in the golden rule. You create your own small amount of fairness in the world. It isn’t perfect, but you do your part.

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  11. Pingback: THAT’S NOT FAIR! | Delaware County Patriots

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