Life is fair is the idea that all things that happen are ultimately in accordance with the human sense of justice. This would appear to conflict with the everyday observation that unfair things do happen and that this isn't necessarily corrected in the long run. The following are illustrative examples of life is fair.
Myth & StorytellingIt is overwhelmingly common for myth and stories to portray characters as either bad or good with no grey areas in-between. Such stories are typically designed to satisfy the audience's sense of justice whereby the bad "get what they deserve" in the end. This may create the sense that life is fair or may be designed to feed the desire of audiences for this to be true.
Two Wrongs Make a Right
The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert.The idea of retributive justice whereby people who do bad should have this reciprocated. This is based on the whataboutism that two wrongs make a right.
Martin Luther King, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
KarmaIt is common for the complex Eastern theological concept of karma to oversimplified in the West to the idea that people eventually and automatically get what they deserve.
Thought-Terminating ClichesThe English language has many truisms that suggest that life is fair such as "you got what was coming to you" or "what goes around comes around." These act as thought-terminating cliches that may be an excuse not to feel empathy for others based on the assumption that they "must have deserved it."
Life is Tough
Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. The theory that life is hard for everyone such that it is fair in its harshness. For example, the observation that great wealth and power doesn't necessarily isolate one from significant stress, problems and misfortune. This may be extended by the idea that the struggles in life benefit all -- an environment that forges character.
~ Oscar Wilde
Competitive World HypothesisThe idea that the nature is inherently competitive and unequal. This is summed up by thought-terminating cliches such as greed is good or "all is fair in love and war."
PositivityPositivity and optimism is often based on the notion that if you put in hard work that you will eventually achieve great things. This is a type of positive life is fair whereby you are always awarded for effort. This doesn't appear to be true in any strict sense. For example, a particular individual could train every day to become a professional basketball player but may not have any chance of actually achieving this objective. Positivity would appear to work best when tempered by defensive pessimism whereby you mostly direct your efforts into things that have some chance of working out.
PragmatismPragmatism is the practice of recognizing reality in order to achieve real things in the real world in an efficient way. A pragmatist wastes no time wishing that things were fair but rather deals with whatever circumstances arise to achieve their goals.
StoicismStoicism is the philosophy that one should not be concerned with anything beyond one's own virtuous behavior. This has interesting traditions such as deferring judgement as to whether something or someone is good or bad. The idea of deferring judgement is captured in a story known as the Chinese Farmer Parable wherein an old farmer has seemingly bad luck that turns out good and seemingly good luck that turns out bad.
Skepticism Skeptics doubt that humans understand much about the universe. In this context, what appears to be unfair from the perspective of a human may be fair in some sense that we do not comprehend. In other words, the universe may have a sense of justice, beauty and goodness that differs greatly from our own.
Embrace the MessThe idea that people are individually imperfect but that the world or the universe is collectively perfect. For example, it would be easy to believe at some magical moment in the forest that nature is perfect but if you were to look at the details of decomposing matter or insects attacking each other on the forest floor, it may look imperfect. This philosophy would suggest that each of our idiosyncratic imperfections actually add to the perfection of the universe as a whole.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about philosophy.
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