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Great quote about appeals to fairness in #3:

"Appealing to fairness is a strategy for bargaining over the division of the surplus, not a way of determining in advance the "correct" division"

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When children say, "It's not fair", because they don't get their way, I do not feel compelled to make the world fair in their eyes.

When teenagers say, "It's not fair", because they don't get their way, I do not feel compelled to make the world fair in their eyes.

Why do reasonable adults allow for "fairness" to be part of their logic? My fairness compass is skewed. Can anyone honestly say that theirs is not? Why would one rely on their sense of fairness for a policy discussion, other than to manipulate those whose self interest overides their introspection?

One can consider inequality an issue without considering fairness an appropriate metric for an adult mind.

Why the antipathy to fairness? Isn't the veil of ignorance one pragmatic construct for judging fairness?

I think a notion of fairness is embedded in a lot of what we consider we ought / ought-not to do.

Rahul asks: "Why the antipathy to fairness? Isn't the veil of ignorance one pragmatic construct for judging fairness?"

Yes, but one that is formed ex-ante, not ex-post, which is the point made by the quote in Enrique's comment.

"Appealing to fairness is a strategy for bargaining over the division of the surplus, not a way of determining in advance the "correct" division"

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My law professor for corporations would ask us to explain the court's decision in a case without using the f word, by which he meant "fair."

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Fairness is too hard to judge so let's not even bother. Same goes for equality of opportunity and actual merit.

The problem with fairness is not that it's too hard to judge (in fact, if anything, it's too easy) -- it's that it doesn't even have an abstract existence. The subjectivity problem goes beyond the fact that different people will judge the fairness of a situation differently; it's that there are no systemic criteria underlying fairness, just a snap judgment. By contrast, "justice" and "right" suffer from subjectivity in that they (in the end) need to be assessed by a human with a subjective consciousness, *but* at least everyone agrees that there is a systemic basis for those terms (although they may differ about the specifics of that basis, e.g. supporters of natural law vs. legal positivists).

Because there is no systemic underlying basis for "fairness," it's a dialogue stopper -- it's an aesthetic judgment not an analysis (in fact, I strongly suspect that the use of the term "fair" derives from the aesthetic sense of the term). That's why a lot of academic lawyers -- by no means all of them right-leaning -- try to avoid use of the term "fair."

It's also a complete red herring. There's the reason Tyler chose to link to that rather than some actual data showing that kids are indistinguishable when young and when old the rich succeed and the poor fail.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/bridging-the-income-barrier-at-top-colleges/

Logic fail. They're operating on different levels. You can't use data to uphold an idea that's analytically incoherent (actually, "fairness" is worse than that, it's analytically non-existent).

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No, but you can use logical analysis to divert attention from data, which is really the whole point here.

Nice job mind-reading Tyler. But seriously, you don't think it's useful to examine our priors in regards to major political issues so that people can avoid talking past each other?

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#3 WW pretty much devastates the fairness argument except when he doesn't.

At the end he says "...there is probably more promise in labour riots..." Or to put it in other words, when the inequalities and unfairness get bad enough people revolt. Why? Because societies structures are unfair! See Arab Spring for a current example. So even though the fairness argument doesn't work in economics or politics or in pure academic arguments, it sure as hell works on the streets.

So according to WW we can't do anything about unfairness until it is too late.

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#4 Actually the roaches will be used to invade the Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor. Go Pack!

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Anyone have a link to an ungated version of the Wall Street Journal article on China's shadow banking culture?

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#3: And what does Will WIlkinson have to do with this?

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