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  #1  
Old 01-31-2009, 11:32 PM
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What is "fair"?

quote:

Did you know that fair is one-to-one untranslatable into any other language--that it is distinctly Anglo in origin? And a relatively new word at that? (Late 18th century, actually--the industrial revolution apparently also vastly enhanced our capacity to complain.) But the twisted history of "fair" is even more interesting than that. For the original antonym of fair is not, as most modern Americans would probably expect, unfair. If you want to understand the roots of fairness, look not to ethicists, but to baseball, which still uses the original dichotomy. If a ball is hit outside the bounds of fair play, it's not unfair--it's foul. That's an important clue. As Columbia law professor George Fletcher had noted in his 1996 book Basic Concepts of Legal Thought, the Anglo-American notion of fairness is firmly rooted in the rules of a game.

These observations have deep implications for our understanding of this social concept, particularly as it relates to economics. Let me be clear: I am not claiming that Anglophones are the only fair people on the planet. It's just that fair doesn't have an exact equivalent in any other language. Other languages either directly import the English word, as in the German exclamation, "Das ist nicht fair!", or fail altogether to have a comparable word, as is the case for French.

From a fascinating essay: http://business.theatlantic.com/2009/01/fairs_fair.php

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Old 01-31-2009, 11:48 PM
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A follow-up by the same author.

Jan 27 2009, 8:03 am by Bart Wilson
Is fairness cross-cultural, or not?
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on fairness, and what the odd history of the word might mean for markets. The esteemed James Surowiecki, whose book I use in the classes that I teach, wonders whether it really matters that only English has the specific word "fair", given that people around the world make similar decisions in the ultimatum game.

It's less interesting to me that people nearly universally offer (and accept) more than $1; the benchmark of a game-theoretic automaton is a low standard. The only people I've seen do that for real stakes are graduate students in economics, and they're an odd bunch whose training has somehow disturbingly supplanted the rules of fairness that ordinary people apply. (Something that's worth remembering as you read the Op-Ed back and forth on the banking bailout.)

I think there's a lot more value to be gained in observing how mean offers vary by context. After translating the instructions and altering the protocols to fit different cultural settings around the world, we observe that mean offers vary from 48% to 26% of the pie. We may all have a sense of fairness, but our sense of what is fair varies pretty dramatically.

As I mention we can also change the experimental protocols for participants right here in the US and observe nearly the same variance, 44% to 28%. [1] The interesting question is, how do people come agree on the tacit social rules for a particular context? An undergraduate was once so struck by the variation of these results that he proposed the following experiment in his final paper. Is the sense of an earned entitlement so strong among our American undergraduate volunteers, he wondered, that if the high scorers on a quiz unwittingly became the responders and the low scorers the proposers, the proposers might offer more than $5 to the responders? I think he was on to something.
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:51 AM
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Your thoughts on:

"Fair" game (Which is patently un-fair)

Fair dinkum

"Ladies so fair" (no reference to anything other than comeliness)


"Fair" may attempt to imply some kind of arbiter of appropriate-ness in advance.
Generally,in Homo-Sapien's interactions with each other and the enviroment
"Fairness Sucks Hind Tit".
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:20 AM
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"The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war. "
John Lyly (1578)
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:36 AM
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FAIR (No Rennassiance involved)

I'll tell you what's fair:
Wall St. + Commercial Bankers + anyone in the real estate industry + anyone
in a regulatory agency +, +, + ,+ ,+ ALL "being chased through the streets"
by citizens with Pitchforks until the crooked, thieving,S**ts give back ALL
the Money.

Madoff "staked out" in the garment district so that all the Orthodox can
"Take Care of Business".
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by compress ignite View Post
"Fair" game (Which is patently un-fair)

Fair dinkum

"Ladies so fair" (no reference to anything other than comeliness)


"Fair" may attempt to imply some kind of arbiter of appropriate-ness in advance.
Generally,in Homo-Sapien's interactions with each other and the enviroment
"Fairness Sucks Hind Tit".
You might find the article enlightening.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:04 AM
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A question as old as the ages. What is just?
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:15 AM
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The article suggests that fairness and justice are not identical outcomes.

On a somewhat related question, I was thinking about a problem that I think is related to the prisoner's dilemma -- scientific advancement.

For every theory proven to advance science there is some unknown number of theories that do not advance science.

At first it occurred to me that if the values of theories are all equal, then advancement over time would be achieved if correct theories are proven at greater than 50% of all theories. If exactly 50%, then there is no advance. If less than 50% then we enter eventually the Dark Ages.

But wait, there is a memory to the system. That is, advances are conserved and failed theories remembered such that they don't get repeated (in an ideal system...).

I'm thinking that this has direct implications for a particular theory -- evolution. In which successful genes are retained and deleterious genes, removed. So now I'm thinking maybe this is also within the realm of communications theory.....

I may do a lit search if I can formalize my thinking a bit more so I'm putting it out there to see what folks here think about it. An eclectic bunch.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:23 AM
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Fairness is a deceptive term,a chimaera.
What may seem equitable and just to one individual can be perceived as inadequate to another.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carleton Hughes View Post
Fairness is a deceptive term,a chimaera.
What may seem equitable and just to one individual can be perceived as inadequate to another.
But on average .... we share a concept of proportionality that defines it's boundary conditions.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:31 AM
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Agreed,but let's be a little more realistic by adding that most troublesome of variables,self-interest.Which of course may be a more marked component in some
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carleton Hughes View Post
Agreed,but let's be a little more realistic by adding that most troublesome of variables,self-interest.Which of course may be a more marked component in some
Definitely a component. I cannot imagine anybody judging fairness without consideration of self-interest. Take the example of the game in the linked article.

If it's a one-off interaction and if there is no penalty for lack of charity, then I am keeping the $10 and leaving you as you arrived. Tough luck.

1. If there's a feedback system -- you get to reject my offer, then I am more likely to offer you something than to offer you nothing -- you'd reject my non-offer just out of spite (or lack of "fairness"). If it's a one-off interaction with feedback I may offer you some amount less than 50% in hopes that you will accept a smaller portion and me retaining the larger portion. but not so great a disparity that I raise your ire. Will you accept 30%? It's one-time offer. If it fails, we both lose the money. Is $3 out of $10 (or $3M out of $10M...) better than $0?

2. Let's make it even more realistic -- it is now a repeated game. There is an undetermined number of rounds in which I get $10 and can give you any portion of it and you can reject it without affecting the subsequent round.

I'll bet a dollar that you would eventually start punishing me (rejecting the offer) if I offered you less than 40% each round. Eventually it's going to approach 50%. But it will never get to 50% because I'm always going to have the advantage.

3. Now let's say we alternate the game each round. I'll bet we'd settle into a pattern that over the long haul would be almost exactly 50%.

What do you think?
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:46 AM
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I think Casinos,Carnivals and Federal Government adhere to the same principle,that's what I think.
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:43 PM
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What is the relationship to "middling?"
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTI View Post
What is the relationship to "middling?"
I dunno, I've never "middled."

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