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Against Fairness

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ISBN-10: 0226029867

ISBN-13: 9780226029863

Edition: 2012

Authors: Stephen T. Asma

List price: $22.50
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From the school yard to the workplace, there’s no charge more damning than “You’re beingunfair!” Born out of democracy and raised in our open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethics—Lady Justice—wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity.  InAgainst Fairness, polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindness—indeed, if we favored favoritism.                Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our “affective community,” he not only showshowwe favor but the reasons weshould. Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from class-wide Valentine’s Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equalopportunityat the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us.               Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of “fairness” today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asma resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small. 
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Book details

List price: $22.50
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/1/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 224
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he holds the title of Distinguished Scholar.

Even Jesus Had a Favorite
Saints and Favorites
Fairness, Tribes, and Nephews
Two Classic Cases of Favoritism
To Thy Own Tribe Be True: Biological Favoritism
Moral Gravity
The Biochemistry of Favoritism
Humans Are Wired for Favoritism
A Healthy Addiction
Flexible Favoritism
Kin Selection
Rational or Emotional Motives
Conflicting Brain Systems
Facts and Values
In Praise of Exceptions
Building the Grid of Impartiality
Going Off the Grid
Friendship and Favoritism
Reasonable Favoritism
"But, Dad, That's Not Fair!"
The Fusion of Feelings and Ideas
Sowing the Seeds of Confusion: Sharing
Sowing the Seeds of Confusion: Open Minds
Envy and Fairness
Excellence, Fairness, and Favoritism
The Circle of Favors: Global Perspectives
Chinese Favoritism
Face Culture
Indian Favoritism
Disentangling Nepotism and Corruption
Disentangling Tribalism and Tragedy
"Your People Shall Be My People?"
Minorities, Majorities, and Favoritism
Affirmative Action and Favoritism
The Finite Stretch
Feeling the Stones with Your Feet
Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line
The Virtues of Favoritism
You Can't Love Humanity. You Can Only Love People.
The Future of Favoritism
The Archbishop and the Chambermaid