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fairness


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


Extract

P olitical philosophy Equal, proportional, and impartial treatment, constituting a virtue of any institution that involves the distribution of goods and responsibilities. Aristotle distinguished between a general notion of justice, as the obedience to laws and regulations, and a particular notion of justice, as the fair distribution of honors and money. This particular notion of justice connects justice with fairness, a bond that is fully exploited by John Rawls , who claims in his 1958 paper “Justice as Fairness” that the most basic and important idea in the conception of justice is fairness. The contemporary discussion of fairness is directed against utilitarianism , which emphasizes the total amount of utility in a given consequential state of affairs, but ignores the issue of whether that utility is distributed fairly among individuals. In contrast to traditional contractualism which considers consent to be the only basis for political obligation , the notion of fairness also provides an independent source for obligation. For if a person participates in and benefits from a rule-governed, co-operative, and just society, that person has a duty to follow the rules. This is called the principle of fairness, but it is claimed by some critics to lead to tyrannical oppression of individuals. “Now by definition the requirements specified by the principle of fairness are the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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