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Is equality feasible and is it worth achieving? Subquestion: By your definitions, is equality synonymous with fairness?

This is an idea I recently fell upon while thinking about colleges and scholarships. I was wondering why I've been told (not actually witnessed) that minorities get a better chance of getting in college for being a minority. This was apparently an attempt to level the playing field and make things for equal for applicants. I realized that in their attempt to equalize the playing field, they made it unfair. What are your thoughts on this situation and any other equality situation? Do you think people should be going for fairness or equality, both, or are they essentially the same thing?

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  • R N

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    May 24 2013: I conceptualize fairness to mean "a state where outcomes are based upon a reasonable set of rules that are consistently applied across the population," whereas I conceptualize equality to mean "a state where outcomes are the same across the population". Given the varying abilities of individuals within a population, an equal outcome would almost certainly require an unfair system.

    Theoretically, I would be in favor of promoting a culture of fairness by eliminating institutionalized favoritism: no more college legacies and no more affirmative action. However, we will never be able to eliminate informal favoritism, such as nepotism and networking. This means that even under such a scenario where institutionalized favoritism is removed, wealth and power will still have the ability to beget wealth and power through informal means. This means the wealth and status of your parents will always have an unfair (by my definition of fairness) impact on where you end up in life. The only way to eliminate this effect would be if we all started off with the exact same resources (my definition of equality).

    Therefore, it would seem, a society cannot be fair unless it is equal and a society that is equal is almost certainly unfair.

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