What is fairness

Definition of “fairness”: what is fairness?

If you summarize the definitions of "fair" and "fairness" in various online dictionaries *, you can create the following definition:

"Fairness describes honest, reasonable and decent behavior that is characterized by equal treatment and impartiality towards others and the observance of fair rules."

According to Dimitriou & Schweiger (2015), fairness is a philosophical concept with which one should “... establish coexistence according to ethical standards ...” (p. 15). The goal of fairness is to establish a humane world in which as many as possible have an appropriate quality of life (Amesberger, 2015, p. 7). That is why principles of fairness, as unwritten social rules, also take on the “… moral dimension of human action” and play a major role in many areas of life (Amesberger, 2015, pp. 7–8).

According to Dimitriou & Schweiger (2015), fairness can, for example, have the following meanings:

  • "Fairness can mean that each person gets what they deserve (pp. 15-16)."
  • "Fairness can mean that each person receives the same amount (p. 16)."
  • "Fairness can (...) mean that people get as much as they need (p. 16)."
  • "Another variant of fairness is to bind them closely to the negotiated rules and to judge behavior as fair that adheres to these rules and does not violate them (p. 16)."

The terms justice and fairness are often used synonymously (Jonas, 2015, p. 24). Based on John Rawls (1975), "... a social condition is just if it is fair ..." (Dimitriou & Schweiger, 2015, p. 15).

* Online dictionaries:

Literature sources:

  • Amesberger, G. (2015). Foreword I. In M. Dimitriou, & G. Schweiger (eds.), Fairness and fair play. Interdisciplinary perspectives (Pp. 7-9). Wiesbaden: Springer specialist media.
  • Dimitriou, M., & Schweiger, G. (2015). Fairness and fair play. An interdisciplinary approach. In M. Dimitriou, & G. Schweiger (eds.), Fairness and fair play. Interdisciplinary perspectives (Pp. 15-22). Wiesbaden: Springer specialist media.
  • Jonas, E. (2015). Fairness pays off! Psychological facets of justice and their contribution to cooperation and resistance in social interactions. In M. Dimitriou, & G. Schweiger (eds.), Fairness and fair play. Interdisciplinary perspectives (Pp. 23-50). Wiesbaden: Springer specialist media.
  • Rawls, John. 1975. A theory of justice. 1st edition Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.