|Kantian Fairness Tendency|
Time for Reflection
Don't we all go about living our life with this one basic expectation that life be fair to us always and haven't we all followed the "law of reciprocity" so diligently, just to ensure that we get a fair treatment as always.
The "Law of Reciprocity" principle may be understood by the popular quote "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". This means if we want to get goodness, we need to give it to others first.
Now, let me ask you a few pertinent questions -
- Do you think life has always been fair to you ?
- Recall few key instances from your life when you felt that life played unfair with you?
- From among the few instances that you recalled, did you feel that somewhere when life was being unfair to you, it was still being fair to someone else -some people other than you ?
Sincere thought to the above would reveal that inspite of our best efforts and attempts, life does not always play fair with us and therefore, to expect it to be fair to us always is to let the bias of "Kantian Fairness Tendency" play in our life !
Definition and Background
The "Kantian Fairness Tendency" refers to the expectation that life is fair and is based on the philosophical framework created by the 18th century German philosopher called Immanuel Kant. His "categorical imperative" or golden rule required humans to follow those behavior patterns that, if followed by all others, would make the surrounding human system work best for everybody.
Charlie Munger is credited with popularising the concept of "Kantian Fairness Tendency" in his book titled "Poor Charlie's Almanack", where he talks about 25 tendencies that lead humans to make bad decisions.
"The craving for perfect fairness causes a lot of problems in system function. Some systems should be made deliberately unfair to individuals because they'll be fairer on average to all of us" - Charlie Munger
Why/ How Does Kantian Fairness Tendency occur ?
The key reason for its occurence is our held belief that life is fair and our reliance on "law of reciprocity" to live. When the law of reciprocity doesn't give us the desired results, it leads to a conflict with our existing belief system.
Indicators/ Symptoms of Kantian Fairness Tendency
When our actions follow the law of reciprocity, expecting a fair treatment in return for rendering the same to others.
Impact of Kantian Fairness Tendency
Life is not always fair and to expect it to be so is to give space to frustration and many other negative emotions. Once these emotions creep inside us, it adversely affects our personality, impacting our emotional and mental health aspects.
Real-Life Examples of Kantian Fairness Tendency
There will be plenty of these from our lives, where we showed human goodness, in the hope that the same will be reciprocated in some way, by someone.
Overcoming/Addressing Kantian Fairness Tendency
Few of the ways in which we can mitigate the effects of this bias are
- Firstly address our existing belief about life being fair. Exposing ourself, through news and social media, to the cases and examples highlighting the other aspect would bring in the desired change in our belief system
- Be open to take decisions that are best for the majority, even at our own cost, sometimes
- Get away with reliance on the principle of "law of reciprocity" to live life. Perhaps, start living life on a more rational principle
- Draw a line between empathy and being "emotional/ sentimental" so the we don't get carried away by human emotions when more a more rational decision making/ behaviour is expected from us to set a precedent for others.
- Practising gratitude would greatly help develop an attitude of doing things for satisfaction rather than for expectation
At times, life may play a bit unfair to us but still we can be a pathbreaker !