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Biology and evolution is unfair. For example some people have better portfolio of genes to excel in certain fields while others don't. If Life is unfair to start with, what's the point in building a code of ethics and fairness on top of it?

Shouldn't we just game the system as much as possible to gain advantage in this unfair world? In this kind of game universe we try not to cheat others not because its bad or violates some noble principle but because game theory says so. So final arbitrator is game-theory and Nash equilibrium. A thriving society will respect property rights not because of some philosophical underpinning but purely because of Nash equilibrium of the agents involved. Some times the equilibrium unfairly tilts towards one group but its the equilibrium so people have to just suck it up! Look at history it has always worked like this. When masses are dumb few elites manage to control huge chunk of resources in the society. Abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, global trades all are geared by equilibrium among agents and resources not based on philosophy! Am not even going to talk about human mating market which seems to be plunging back to primal days favoring women at the expense of men... this mating pattern changes are sponsored by current environment which was not possible 50 years ago.

If life is unfair what's wrong in exploiting every possible edge(even the immoral ones) as long as game theory validates it as successful strategy? For example lying with a stranger whom you are not going to meet again and there is no way he can influence your reputation in future.

Could morality be a conspiracy to control more resources in a society crafted by privileged ones and it's unleashed on the unlucky and under-privileged ones?

something is wrong in the above way of thinking but am not quite sure whats wrong.

PS: I don't put kittens in microwave oven and I am not planning to rob a bank :) am just curious! I believe one should not do bad things because it causes suffering, spreading undeserved pain is bad.

asked Jul 21 '13 at 14:49

dragonfish's gravatar image


edited Jul 23 '13 at 00:41

Why does every sentence end with an exclamation point?

(Jul 23 '13 at 00:25) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

I put an exclamation mark when I find something contradictory to my existing set of beliefs. You are right my punctuations are not very professional will work on it.

(Jul 23 '13 at 00:37) dragonfish dragonfish's gravatar image

Here's my little piece of advice. The world is indeed very unfair. It is unfair that people steal from others, be it with the point of a gun or the use of government compulsion, to avoid working for themselves. It is unfair that businesses shut down because of taxation and regulation. But you know what? Nothing will get better if the people who are aware of their principles decide to abandon them because everyone else has. You have to stand by what you believe in, even in the face of hopelessness.

(Jul 23 '13 at 11:13) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image
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The question presents an argument based on "fairness" as a metaphysical concept, and on mathematics (and economics) as a substitute for philosophy (existing independently of any philosphy), and then asks what's "wrong" with that argument.

The first aspect that is wrong is the concept of "fairness" as a metaphysical concept:

Biology and evolution is [sic] unfair. For example some people have better portfolio of genes to excel in certain fields while others don't. If Life is unfair to start with, what's the point in building a code of ethics and fairness on top of it?

The more precise term for "fairness" is "justice." Objectivism points out that the concept of justice depends on a whole context of deeper issues and premises, proceeding from acceptance of reality, objective conceptualization of observations, the distinctive metaphysical nature of man and other living entities, the nature of value, the standard of value applicable to man, the nature of morality and virtue, and finally justice as one of the essential virtues for man's life. There is an entire subsection in OPAR (Chapter 8) devoted to "Justice as Rationality in the Evaluation of Men," referring to evaluations performed by people. Ayn Rand provides an analysis of the definition of justice in ITOE, Chapter 5 ("Definitions"), the key excerpt from which can be found in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Justice." The argument presented in this question obliterates that whole context and seeks to ascribe injustice (or unfairness) to the universe as a whole. The argument uses the concept of "fairness" completely out of the essential context needed to form that concept in the first place. It is a form of the "Fallacy of the Stolen Concept." Refer to the topic of "'Stolen Concept,' Fallacy of" in the Lexicon for additional overview.

The final excerpt in the Lexicon topic of "Justice" explains the modern origin of the concept of fairness as a metaphysical concept:

The new “theory of justice” [of John Rawls] demands that men counteract the “injustice” of nature by instituting the most obscenely unthinkable injustice among men: deprive “those favored by nature” (i.e., the talented, the intelligent, the creative) of the right to the rewards they produce (i.e., the right to life)—and grant to the incompetent, the stupid, the slothful a right to the effortless enjoyment of the rewards they could not produce, could not imagine, and would not know what to do with.

There is a longer analysis of Rawls' "theory of justice" in Leonard Peikoff's book, The DIM Hypothesis, Chapter 8 ("Politics ... in Modern Culture"), subsection titled, "Egalitarianism" (pp. 171-182). That's what "fairness as metaphysical" is -- egalitarianism, a demand for all to be equal to all, not only in opportunity, but in actual results as well.

Perhaps sensing the hideous destructiveness of egalitarianism, the questioner grasps at mathematics and economics for escape. The questioner apparently implicitly asserts (correctly) that existence exists, it is what it is, and man's task is to make the best of it. But the questioner denies, or fails to understand, that these premises are philosophical principles that provide inescapable underpinning for scientific developments such as "game theory" and "Nash equilibrium," as well as for any hope of widespread popular acceptance of science as a guide to practical action. That view of science is far from self-evident and far from automatically accepted by all, as Dr. Peikoff points out in some detail in The DIM Hypothesis. If the general public ever comes fully to accept "fairness" as metaphysical, it will be a shift to egalitarianism from which science will not be able to rescue us (or itself). Appeals to reason "fall on deaf ears" when reason itself is no longer understood to be a great value in man's life. The DIM Hypothesis explains in great detail what happens to a culture that falls into the "D" (disintegration) and/or "M" (misintegration) modes of conceptual functioning. The mode blinds its adherents to the possibility and the great potential of the "I" (integration) mode on which science (at its best) so heavily depends.

Shouldn't we just game the system as much as possible to gain advantage in this unfair world? In this kind of game universe we try not to cheat others not because its bad or violates some noble principle but because game theory says so.... Look at history it has always worked like this.

The DIM Hypothesis shows that this type of thinking only leads to destruction and thus serves the long-term purposes of the "M2" adherents, those who devote their conceptual efforts to supporting and advancing a comprehensive dogma that is completely divorced from secular reality in its doctrines and leads to nothing but widespread suffering, destruction and death when implemented on earth. Yet the "masses" are unable to rise up in organized revolt because they have accepted the same underlying mode of conceptual functioning that reinforces the M2 power elite. Historically and to this day, M2 cultures have shown the capacity to endure for centuries if unopposed by any appreciable "I" influence in the culture. M2 sweeps aside everything, including all forms of "D" and all forms of M1 ("M" mixed with elements of "I") when M2 comes into power. Mathematics is unlikely to be tolerated at all in an M2 culture unless it somehow reinforces the M2 dogma; and economics barely exists at all under M2 dictatorship, since economics presupposes freedom to make choices and act on them. So much for any "game theory" or "Nash equilibrium" in an M2 dictatorship.

The only possible antidote to an advancing M2 (before it comes into power) is to uphold the "I" method in conceptual functioning, not to abandon it: consistently to look at secular reality and conceptualize what one observes as accurately and objectively as possible. This includes sounding an alarm of danger to human life whenever "D" types propose to dispense with concepts, or "M" types propose to place "higher spiritual concerns" above secular reality and this-worldly prosperity and happiness.

answered Jul 23 '13 at 21:35

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I only have one small question for Ideas for Life. What is your profession? Are you a philosophy teacher? How is it you write such great answers?

(Jul 23 '13 at 23:01) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

Thank you, Collin, for your interest, and I'm glad that my posting has been of value to you (and others, too, I hope). I've now posted a brief bio of myself in my Objectivist Answers user profile. I've also discovered, to my surprise, that I now seem to have the highest "Karma" rating on this website, not counting the 1 million award granted to website administrators.

(Jul 25 '13 at 22:30) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

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Asked: Jul 21 '13 at 14:49

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Last updated: Jul 25 '13 at 22:30