# [SEQ RERUN] The Bedrock of Fairness

2 22 June 2012 04:23AM

Today's post, The Bedrock of Fairness was originally published on 03 July 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):

What does "fairness" actually refer to? Why is it "fair" to divide a pie into three equal pieces for three different people?

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Created Already In Motion, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

Sort By: Best
Comment author: 22 June 2012 05:45:03AM 3 points [-]

Somehow I'm the first to note this touches "The Lion's Share" by Aesop (620 to 560 BC).

The Lion, the Tiger and the Leopard saw a young ox away from the heard. 'Let's get it!' says the Leopard. 'Yeah!' said the Tiger. 'I'll go left, Leopard you go right and Lion you go up the middle.' 'Okay!' said the Lion, and off they ran. They caught the ox and were ready to eat it.

'I should get a third because I had the idea' said the Leopard. 'And I should get a third because I had the plan' said the Tiger. 'How about I get everything because I'm the Lion?' said the Lion, and that's what happened.

Comment author: 22 June 2012 07:14:33AM 0 points [-]

Hm, looking back on this, I think only part of the resolution follow in later posts.

The part that follows is how the letters "fair" can be used to refer to different algorithms by different people, and each feels like they're referring to a fixed thing, because they are. But arguing by definition won't get you anywhere.

The part that isn't covered is how people actually can try to be fair, rather than being algorithm_15833 - that is, a good argument will actually convince some people that they had the definition of "fair" wrong, and then they'll actually do that new thing. It's amazing. Clearly people are following some method in accepting or rejecting arguments, but this method is more like a treasure map that finds fairness, while the word "fair" refers to the buck-stops-here algorithm that is fairness, even if you don't know what that algorithm is!

And there's the stuff about human politics, but that's hard :P