Against Fairness

Stephen T. Asma. Univ. of Chicago, $22.50 (200p) ISBN 978-0-226-02986-3
Contrary to his book’s title, Asma (On Monsters), a professor of philosophy at Chicago’s Columbia College, is not so fiercely antifairness as he is fiercely profavoritism. After arguing that the “biological process of filial favoritism” is “natural for humans in the same way that breastfeeding is natural,” he ponders how the “ideology of fairness” developed in Western culture, attributing it to “the new leveling and democratization of seventeenth-century Holland,” “Galileo’s leveling and mechanizing of nature,” and Newton’s “natural philosophy,” Bentham’s “utilitarian philosophy,” and Kant’s categorical imperative, and contrasting it with his experience in Eastern culture (“In Confucian cultures like China, I was treated with far more respect than I have ever experienced in the States”). Closer to home, he wonders about “the development of fairness in children.” Indeed, parenthood may push many buttons for Asma, from his initial musing upon how many people he would kill to save his son’s life (and why), to whether that child should have to bring cupcakes for everyone for his in-school birthday (and why not). Agent: Giles Anderson, Anderson Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 220 pages - 978-0-226-92346-8
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