posted by Brit
Yesterday's post on sociobiology raised the question of fairness. According to the philosopher Raymond Geuss in a recent edition of Start the Week, the concept of 'fairness' has peculiarly English origins. Indeed, other languages such as German take their word for 'fairness' straight from the English, there being no direct linguistic equivalent.*
Interesing one, fairness. It's a sort of appeal to a natural justice (rather than a human or even Divine judgement or application of law) with hints of 'playing the game' and a hope of reasonableness and an even distribution of luck over the long run.
With its avoidance of absolutes it's a fundamentally conservative concept. And yet paradoxically, as Randy Newman here explains, the fact that life isn't fair (along with the existence of froggish men with beautiful wives) explains the failure of Marxism in the 20th Century.
*This puts me in mind of one of my favourite Bushisms: "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." Pity it's a hoax.