The otherwise unbuttressed complaint “It’s not fair!” is a frequent lament. Not nearly as common is the response: “So what?” The moral virtue of fairness often dominates discussions on economics, morality, and how the two realms meet. With Against Fairness (University of Chicago), philosopher Stephen Asma rejects the idea that fairness is morally central and defends the moral theory of favoritism.
Asma refreshingly outlines the moral virtues that come with favoritism: loyalty, generosity, and gratitude. While it might strike some as cruel or outdated to accept that we tend to care more about those close to us, Asma shows that this outlook is actually conducive to the moral virtues that utilitarians struggle to justify. —Matthew Feeney