Perception of fairness contributes to political polarization
December 11, 2013
My sincere thanks and congratulations to Dr. Lawrence Gold for his clear, simple, comprehensive description of a fundamental issue that affects all humanity.
His "Other Voices" (Nov. 30) in The Union, entitled "How Do We Decide What's 'Fair?'" outlines the issue of fairness with three approaches: sameness, deservedness and need. Gold quotes another article by Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., which appeared in Psychology Today, describing these three ideas. These two authors make clear the differences in our decisions, depending upon which of the three options we employ. Gold recommends the need for altruism, a value absent in most political decisions regarding fairness.
Gold also describes the dangers of ideologues who stubbornly adhere to one of the three options without consideration of the merits and appropriateness of the other two. Gold states, "And it is that intransigence, that assuredness of ideologues, that is responsible, in large part, for the polarization that paralyzes today's politics in America. Ignorance and indifference are equally guilty."
Many clashes in political philosophies can be traced to the differences in these three approaches to fairness. Context must be considered when advocating one of these three options. No single approach is always best.