Fairness: Suspending Judgement

Synonyms of Fairness are candor, civility, fairness, equity, and honesty.

What is Fairness?

Fairness means an impartial and just treatment or behaviour without favouritism or discrimination. It is about dealing objectively (and impartially) with challenging situations. When you are fair you consider the needs of others when making decisions.

The question of Fairness?

Is it fair squatters could be allowed to stay on government land for free? Is it fair that programs for special education are more expensive than programs for typical children? Is it fair for a teacher to compare one of their students work to the work of another student? Questions of fairness could go on and on.

Ideas of fairness

There is an idea that fairness refers to the following:

Equality

Everyone pays the same price to get into Disney land. There is no special treatment for anyone. Either you get in for that price or you don’t get in.

Deservedness

Everyone gets what they deserve. If you work hard, you should earn more. If you study hard, you should get high marks. If you are lazy, stupid, etc. you deserve less. Everyone have individual freedom and so everyone gets what they deserve.

Obligation

Everyone is expected to give according to their talents and abilities.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine when something is fair. Clearly, people see fairness to them differently, more so if you are on the losing side. However, if a decision was done with all considered, maybe people may see the decision as being fair. This is not always an easy task, because people’s needs and wants vary. Consider the story below.

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Consider the following short films. Discuss the the reasons for fairness and how fairness was done.


Making Fair Decisions

If you are one who has to make a decision, you would want to make one that is accepted by all involved. The following are the steps you should make to arrive at the fairest course of action in a given situation.

  1. First communicate with others to get their input. If you talk with others, you would likely be able to reach the best possible decision and others will more likely support your decision. This is the stage where you gather as much information to help you make the best decision. Information can come about from the people who would most likely be affected by the decision, experts in a particular field, friends and family members.
  2. Consider the input of others as important. It is beneficial when others are involved in the decision making. If you do not make good use of the information before making a judgment, you could face a lot of opposition towards your decision. It may be difficult to implement the decision, and then the decision could end up failing or causing much grief.
  3. Explain your decisions once it has been made. People appreciate it when a decision maker spends time to explain his/her decision. They feel involved and help in the success of the decision.

The story below shows how this is done.

Thus, a fair decision has the following: it is truthful; it is fair to all concerned; it will build goodwill and better friendships; and it will be beneficial to all concerned. Consider the consequences if Andy did not listen to his inner conscience.


A Fair Person

A fair person has the following admirable traits. He or she: treats others the way he or she wants to be treated, take turns, tells the truth, think about how his or her actions affect others, don’t take advantage of others, and don’t play favourites. A fair person consider others and not oneself. Such a person has a just trait and choose to pursue what is right.


Story:

THE LITTLE LOAF

Once when there was a famine, a rich baker sent for twenty of the poorest children in the town, and said to them, “In this basket there is a loaf for each of you. Take it, and come back to me every day at this hour till God sends us better times.” The hungry children gathered eagerly about the basket, and quarreled for the bread, because each wished to have the largest loaf.

At last they went away without even thanking the good gentleman. But Gretchen, a poorly-dressed little girl, did not quarrel or struggle with the rest, but remained standing modestly in the distance. When the ill-behaved girls had left, she took the smallest loaf, which alone was left in the basket, kissed the gentleman’s hand, and went home.

The next day the children were as ill behaved as before, and poor, timid Gretchen received a loaf scarcely half the size of the one she got the first day. When she came home, and her mother cut the loaf open, many new, shining pieces of silver fell out of it. Her mother was very much alarmed, and said, “Take the money back to the good gentleman at once, for it must have got into the dough by accident. Be quick, Gretchen! be quick!”

But when the little girl gave the rich man her mother’s message, he said, “No, no, my child, it was no mistake. I had the silver pieces put into the smallest loaf to reward you. Always be as contented, peaceable, and grateful as you now are. Go home now, and tell your mother that the money is your own.”


Consequences of Failing to Assess Information Before Making a Judgement.

When you must make a decision, it should be one of good judgement – one that made use of information, one that was made in truth, goodwill and for the betterment of all concerned. When you make good decisions, people see you as a thinker, a good listener and a seeker of knowledge. But, what are the consequences of a person who makes a bad judgment?

fairness

A bad judgment is a consequence of a bad decision, one in which you know you should not have made in the first place. Now, we are not referring to consequences you did not like, but rather consequences or sufferings as the results of bad decisions. Thus, when a person makes a bad decision some of the following might be the result:

  1. The individual don’t get what he or she actually wants.
  2. The individual could get what he or she wants, but get it at the expense of others, thus damaging the relationship with others.
  3. The individual could develop anxiety, guilt, and distress.
  4. The individual could now be in great physical pain (suffering from injuries).
  5. The individual could cause great physical pain or suffering to others.
  6. The individual could cause himself or herself great financial lost.
  7. The individual action could cause great financial cost to other, thus wasting the time of others doing unnecessary things.
  8. The individual could cause a waste of life.

Can you think of any more consequences of a bad decision? Below are some consequences of making bad decisions. Do not seek to try these yourself!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=nyNuwKNHL9I

In order to make good judgement, we have to be able to take emotions and biases out of the equation. Try to remain grounded in reality so the choice or choices will benefit all concerned. If you need help, seek out information. Don’t think you know everything, especially when you don’t have the right information. So seek out the information, ask questions, or practice some constraint to not show your “stupidity” or “ignorance“. Above all, be open to the information you are getting, but guard from information too much as you could waste your time.


Seven Terrific Problem Solving Strategies

Below is a table that explains steps you can take to plan a course of action when you have to make a fair decision. On the right are strategies for solving problems.

Steps in Making a Fair Decision

Strategies for Problem Solving

1: Identify problem

Keep an eye on your goal, know that you have a purpose to solve the problem.

Strategy: Act out the problem

When you act out the problem you begin to understand the complexity of the problem. When you stimulate a problem or act out a situation you can observe the outcomes yourself.

2: Gather information

You can weigh your options when you collect the necessary information you need to develop a list of ideas for a possible solution.

Strategy: Collect information

Collect information about what happens before, during and after the problem. This could also help you determine the cause of the problem since many problems are triggered by something observable and strengthened by something that happens afterward. The information you collect can also show a pattern if you organize it in a chart, a table or a list. The pattern will also point to the cause of the problem.

Strategy: Break a problem into smaller parts

Some problems can be broken down into parts to be develop possible solutions. You can then work on one problem at a time.

3: Consider consequences

The consequences will indicate the impact a decision will have. That way you can review if the decision will be a good one.

Strategy: Use deductive or inductive reasoning.

Sometimes you know the impact a decision will have from experience or general beliefs. You are using inductive reasoning. When you are researching the impact of a decision, you are using deductive reasoning.

4: Make a decision

Once the information and consequences have been evaluated, it is time to make a decision. Do not waste time as this could cause you more anxiety. Use external aids, if necessary to help you identify possible solutions.

Strategy: Ask someone, an expert.

When you are in doubt you can always find someone who is willing to help you solve a particular problem. Seek out someone (like a parent, a teacher, a counselor, etc.) who understands the problem and can give you good advice. You can also seek answers in written material. They are your external aids, and can be found in “how to” books, newspapers, manuals, and on the internet.

Strategy: Question Assumptions

Ask questions that encourage you to think more about the assumptions or beliefs you have about your world. You might be able to identify possible solution while you ask these questions.

5: Evaluate the decision

You must make sure the steps you take are working. Reflect on the decision you made and, if necessary, seek out new information.

Strategy: Estimate the cost and benefits of possible solutions

You choose the best decision where the cost is the least and the benefit is the greatest.


Sources of Information to Aid in Decision Making

Consider you have to make a decision that would have a big impact on your life as an adult. Would you make decision because your inner voice told you, because you trust your gut instincts, because time is short so why not go ahead, or you would do some research? Think about this and talk about it.

Every choice has some form of consequences. Thus, it is always a good idea to do some research before you commit yourself to anything choices. Read the fine prints in the contracts as they say and you will be thankful later. So, go ahead and consult experts, read books, talk to an thoughtful friend, talk to your teacher, your parents, etc.

Let’s consider a case:

The Athlete

You are a struggling athlete, who wants to get better at your sport. A friend offers you a hormone drugs, easily available in drug stores, that can help you grow and improve your skills immensely. You have observe your friend also takes this hormone drug and you have not observed your friends experiencing any ill-effects from the drug, except he seems to be getting better and better at his sport. Would you take the drug?


Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever said, “that’s unfair“? How do you know it was unfair?
  2. Have you ever been tricked or cheated?

Look at the short story below. Then answer the following questions?

  1. Describe what happened in this story?
  2. Do you think the mom was fair ordering the children to share?
  3. Did the children treat each other fairly?
  4. Were the children at any time show actions to be unfair?
  5. If you were the mom, what would you have done differently?

Look at the short story below then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Why did the older brother shouted, “It wasn’t fair!” when he got a younger brother?
  2. Why did the rules vary for the brothers?
  3. Why did the younger brother, when he learnt to talk, also shouted, “It’s not fair!?

Case Study:

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