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Unning the race Nobody s feelings get hurt The author doesn t like this trend He argues that this confused sense of Fairness has distorted policies such as Affirmative Action But Asma goes further He says Nepotism which often congers up the idea of corruption is actually behavi A good poke at the overly exalted position of the concept of fairness along with a defense of favoritism Very thought provoking A great challenge to many of my assumptions Read this after reading an Asma essay in the NYT blog While there were some interesting moments I found this title to be ultimately disappointing Perhaps I wax curmudgeonly here because I expected something different those expectations being set by the titleIn defining fairness as eual outcomes the author posits himself as really going out on a limb by being against the forced distribution of eual outcomes Hence the title and the somewhat over stated cover photo Maybe at Columbia this is going out on a limb but not so much in the broader meeting place of ideasAside from the very informative and interesting though short section on the bio chemical basis for favoritism I found the remaining material and analysis to be a mixed bag In specific A I liked it an interesting read And I ve heard an interview with him Favoritism is in us I suppose we ought not to deny it but balance it with societal needs And I agree with him that we need to be specific with the word fairness it really does get used as a blanket term when we actually mean other things Gandhi recommended that the seeker of good have no exclusive loves because they will introduce loyalty partiality bias and favoritism To love everyone we cannot preferentially love any individual or group Orwell however believed that love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people than othersThe focus on euality of outcome may produce a generation burdened with an indignant sense of entitlement 80% of success may be showing up but then ou ve got to perform noBy benefiting relatives altruistic acts preserve the altruist s genes even if he may not be the one to perpetuate themNature is not a war of all against all but rather a war of us against them with fierce intra tribe loyaltyIt s interesting to note how uickly a strict egalitarian notion of eual opportunity starts to break down when competence is introduced as a criterionIt s not logic or calculation that explains a friendship but historyBiology can bind people together but so can shared experiences emotions values and habits And that uniue contingent history prevents any transferability of friendship You can t have substitute friendsVice in that uniue contingent history prevents any transferability of friendship You can t have substitute friendsVice in is easy to get the road is smooth and begins beside Death in a Serene City you but the gods have put sweat between us and virtueLearning to curb selfishness is not the same as fairness Greed is countered by generosity but one can be unfairly generous directing all of one s giving to a favoured fewGroup favoritism does not automatically entail negative judgments towards out groups unless there is a forced dichotomyHigh minded notions retributive justice fairness have roots in lower emotions revenge envyPublic morality shame based VS private morality guilt basedWhat is owed to one another is respect not eual affections or treatment One only has finite time and attention to go aroundDeveloping countries have a form of favoritism philanthropy focused charity effortsPolitical empowerment movements are effective because a tribes gets powerful enough such that they can no longer be ignored not by the implementation of some abstract egalitarian principleAffirmative action badly executed means that preferred groups don t have to work hard and non preferred groups have no reward when they doPride can preventou from graciously accepting help and can fill A Runaway World? you with resentment instead of appreciation It takes real effort and sensitivity to accept preferential treatmentThe intimacy of favoritism brings personal character back to the forefront of ethics where it belongs Caught not taughtOne can t love humanity one can only love people Graham GreeneLove not fairness is the engine of philanthropyThe digital world adds breadth not depth to human connections the exception being whenou already have some depth with a friend in the real WORLD AND CAN ENHANCE IT IN and can enhance it in digital realm. Tzsche he reveals how we have confused fairness with 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 eual opportunity at 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?. E his neighbor from sin I liked a lot of the Thomistic elements of Asma s work but while I agree with its attack on the degraded notion that men should be like angels I did have uestions and concerns with Asma s apparent defense of nepotism Certainly people are able to do with their own property as they wish but when they start appropriating public goods or the goods of others to favor their family or friends then we are running into strong competing concerns It is certainly the case that cultures which normalize nepotism are corrupt and less wealthy than those that have an anti nepotistic tradition Asma argues that the abuse of nepotism should not be used to condemn nepotism per se but the problem is that policing abuses is virtually impossible where nepotism is institutionalized Nonetheless I recommend this book as an accessible and interesting text on the subject of friendship and family which are generally ignored in modern philosophy This book is a bit of a counterpoint to another one I previously read Against Empathy The Case for Rational Compassion they weren t written for that purpose but that s how it worked out in my reading Now I thought this book would intone against the sort of fairness demanded by a fourth grade teacher in some government left wing brain washing operation aka public school insisting that all outcomes must be eual or some bureaucrat who somehow things affirmative action is fair now that s a book I could get behind But Asma s book could just as easily have been titled for favoritism And he s REALLY for it So much so that he can write things like Lying to strangers to advantage kin is not a major sin in my book He favors favoritism so much that his morality has gone off the rails Part of this is likely an overreaction to his upbringing in Catholicism a faith he now repudiates Not that he ever grasped the faith all that well he somehow twists John 316 to see it as reason some people care for a faraway African tribe than their own family even going so far as to accuse God of transcendentally bad parenting This is a bit ironic because the sort of gospel that John 316 should have been evidence for his case for God is surely not interested in fairness as clad for by the sort of people demanding 50M from Yale for another minority student center And The Queens Necklace yet he totally misses the pointI made it through this book and really came to one conclusion Stephen Asma will loveou if The Literary Conference your his friend but if notou re up the creek While I hated some parts of this book I can t make too scathing a statement because I have to begrudgingly admit it s not wholly awful I still feel that it s flawed howeverAn example of this tension is the treatment of racism and sexism It s unmentioned for most of the book but then a late section does address it So it s not an awful blindspot as I thought early on but that doesn t mean I accept the arguments given I feel the justifications as to why the author isn t arguing favor of racism and sexism are inadeuate and consider only the easiest potential problemsThe author is prone to a particular type of strawman where he frames all opposing positions at their most utopian addresses thoughtless implementations of them and insists that all opponents have zero sense of compromise or ambiguity on complex moral issuesMost annoying Is A Tendency To Describe An Opposing a tendency to describe an opposing often with actual research and then simply state I don t agree and I think most people don t either There s an undercurrent that the author believes most people wholly agree with him and that this unproven fact should influence us against opposing argumentsThere are some decent parts of the book where it talks about cultural or scientific facts But once ou remove the descriptions and anecdotes not much of this book is actually arguments designed to convince someone who might disagree with the author Excellent book A bit boring and many references to bible and Greek stories Wow Who could be against fairnessWell Stephen Asma the author of Against Fairness is He claims that Fairness has become muddled with a sense of effusive empathy so that Eual OUTCOMES has often become the goal of public policy School kids these days have to send a valentine to every other kid in the class Everybody gets a cupcake Everybody wins a prize for Showed our unfair tendencies a little 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 shows how we favor but the reasons we should Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocueville to Nie. ,


Please give my review a helpful vote Fairness by Stephen T AsmaThis is a short book that argues in favor of nepotism Author Stephen T Asma constructs a contrarian against what he calls the great grid of impartiality He argues that the modern notion that we should be fair and impartial to everyone whether they be family members or strangers is contrary to hard wired human psychology The idea that a father would not pull strings to save THE LIFE OF HIS SON IS NOT ONLY HARD life of his son is not only hard believe it is entirely inhuman Asma s interest is not in merely excusing favoritism he wants to demonstrate that favoritism is a kind of virtue that informs other social virtues Asma points out that favoritism creates a close bond between the subject and object of favoritism As Johnny Cash sang Because our mine I walk the line Favoritism is intertwined with loyalty generosity and gratitude These virtues the virtues of the classical age have fallen on rough times today There is one thing that these virtues do which is to create a web that cements a relationship Asma points out that Americans are bad with gratitude It is hard for many of us to receive a gift We do fine with birthday presents wedding gifts and other institutionalized generosities But most other gifts come with strings attached and Americans in particular are uncomfortable with the binding entanglements that strings bring If we re raised on an ideology of self reliance and if our money based economy has freed us from family dependence then being grateful may not be regular exercise for us Friendship implies favoritism which implies generosity which implies gratitude which implies friendship There is a circle in the relationships that constitute partiality and favoritism The severing of the links perhaps at gratitude is destructive to the formation and maintenance of friendships which is perhaps why we have the phenomenon described in Bowling Alone of the death of associations and rise of lonelinessThe modern approach devalues partiality to family friends and tribe Asma refers to a grid of impartiality rising from Immanuel Kant s rationalism which reuired that everyone reason from any particular case to a universal rule The grid of impartiality is reinforced by the teaching of fairness to children which affirms universal sharing as fair and promotes not a bit of envy against those with friends The acme of this view may be found in Peter Singer who argues that one should not prefer one s parent simply because that person is one s parent In fact according to Singer one should not even prefer oneself but presumably should sell all one has and live at a subsistence level out of a sense of Kantian universalismWhat I found interesting in Asma s book is that he seems to be recreating the insights of Thomas Auinas who argued like Asma that one justly favors oneself over one s neighbor one s family over one s neighbor and one s neighbor over the stranger although Certainly Where One Has The where one has the to do so then generosity and charity should be shown to others Auinas also understood that it was simply impossible for an embodied soul a human to not be particular with respect to love In the Summa Theologica Part II II uestion 26 article 4 Auinas writes There are two things in man his spiritual nature and his corporeal nature And a man is said to love himself by reason of his loving himself with regard to his spiritual nature as stated above II II257 so that accordingly a man ought out of charity to love himself than he loves any other personThis is evident from the very reason for loving since as stated above II II2512 God is loved as the principle of good on which the love of charity is founded while man out of charity loves himself by reason of his being a partaker of the aforesaid good and loves his neighbor by reason of his fellowship in that good Now fellowship is a reason for love according to a certain union in relation to God Wherefore just as unity surpasses union the fact that man himself has a share of the Divine good is a potent reason for loving than that another should be a partner with him in that share Therefore man out of charity ought to love himself than his neighbor in sign whereof a man ought not to give way to any evil of sin which counteracts his share of happiness not even that he may fre. From the school ard to the workplace there’s no charge damning than “You’re being unfair” 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 than another one thing over another hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity  In Against 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. ,

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