Fairness as "appropriate impartiality" and the problem of self-serving bias

Abstract

Garrett Cullity contends that fairness is appropriate impartiality (See Cullity (2004) Chapters 8 and 10 and Cullity (2008)). Cullity deploys his account of fairness as a means of limiting the extreme moral demand to make sacrifices in order to aid others that was posed by Peter Singer in his seminal article ‘Famine, Affluence and Morality’. My paper is founded upon the combination of (1) the observation that the idea that fairness consists in appropriate impartiality is very vague and (2) the fact that psychological studies show the self-serving bias is especially likely to infect one’s judgements when the ideas involved are vague. I argue that Cullity’s solution to extreme moral demandingness is threatened by these findings. I then comment on whether some other theories of fairness are vulnerable to the same objection.

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Charlotte Newey
University of Reading

Citations of this work

Online Shaming.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2017 - Social Philosophy Today 33:187-197.
Institutions, Ideology, and Nonideal Social Ontology.Johan Brännmark - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (2):137-159.

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References found in this work

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory.Liam B. Murphy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Principles of Social Justice.David Miller - 2002 - Political Theory 30 (5):754-759.
The Moral Demands of Affluence.Garrett Cullity - 2004 - Oxford University Press UK.
Needs, Values, Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of Value.David Wiggins - 1987 - Oxford, England and Cambridge, MA, USA: Oxford University Press.

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