Is Fairness About Clear Fitness Signals?

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Giving everyone equal rights means giving the strong license to oppress the weak, Fitzhugh said. That’s kind of the point, Robin Hanson might say:

“Fairness” is often described in terms of equality of outcomes. But in a game, the “fairest” rules are often those that make the ablest players mostly likely to win, instead of those that distribute wins most evenly among players.

Even outside of games, a wide range of otherwise puzzling common intuitions about fairness can be understood if the fundamental “game” of life is seen as wooing, i.e., attracting mates by showing that you have fit genes. The fairest social institutions are then those in which success correlates as much as possible with genetic fitness.

For example, it can seem fair that the most attractive witty athletic folks get more mates and money, but seem unfair that the rich can buy better education for their children. Makeup can seem fair, while breast implants seem unfair.

(Hat tip to sark.)

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