Quotations about   fairness

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Fairness for everyone would be possible only if everyone’s interests were the same, if everyone were in agreement as to what baseline considerations must be in place for a procedure to be labeled “fair.” But if that were the case, the question of fairness would never be raised. It is raised precisely because everyone’s interests are not the same, and since different interests will generate different notions of fairness (the debate between those who call for equality of access and those who call of equality of opportunity is an example), any regime of fairness will always be unfair in the eyes of those for whom it was not designed.

Stanley Fish (b. 1938) American literary theorist, legal scholar, author
There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, And It’s A Good Thing, Too, Part 1, ch. 5 (1994)
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Added on 4-Jun-21 | Last updated 4-Jun-21
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Those who so act and so live as to give proof of loyalty and uprightness, of fairness and generosity; who are free from all passion, caprice, and insolence, and have great strength of character — men like those just mentioned — such men let us consider good, as they were accounted good in life, and also entitled to be called by that term because, in as far as that is possible for man, they follow Nature, who is the best guide to good living.

[Qui ita se gerunt, ita vivunt, ut eorum probetur fides integritas aequitas1 liberalitas, nec sit in eis ulla cupiditas libido audacia, sintque magna constantia, ut ei fuerunt, modo quos nominavi, hos viros bonos, ut habiti sunt, sic etiam appellandos putemus, quia sequantur, quantum homines possunt, naturam optimam bene vivendi ducem.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship],” ch. 5, part 3 / sec. 19 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Those who so conduct themselves, and so live that their honor, their integrity, their justice, and liberality are approved; so that there is not in them any covetousness, or licentiousness, or boldness; and that they are of great consistency, as those men whom I have mentioned above; -- let us consider these worthy of the appellation of good men, as they have been accounted such because they follow (as far as men are able) nature, which is the best guide of a good life.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

Those who so conduct themselves, so live, that their good faith, integrity, equity, and kindness win approval, who are entirely free from avarice, lust, and the infirmities of a hasty temper, and in whom there is perfect consistency of character; in fine, men like those whom I have named, while they are regarded as good, ought to be so called, because to the utmost of human capacity they follow Nature, who is the best guide in living well.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

We mean then by the "good" those whose actions and lives leave no question as to their honour, purity, equity, and liberality; who are free from greed, lust, and violence; and who have the courage of their convictions. The men I have just named may serve as examples. Such men as these being generally accounted “good,” let us agree to call them so, on the ground that to the best of human ability they follow nature as the most perfect guide to a good life.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]

Those who comport themselves in such a way, who live in such a way that their loyalty, integrity, fairness and generosity are proven, such that there is no desire, lust, and insolence in them, and such that they have great steadfastness of character (like those whom I named just before), we consider ought indeed to be called good men (as is customary), because they follow (as much as humans can) nature -- the best leader in proper living.
[Source]

Added on 19-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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Life isn’t fair, but government must be.

Ann Richards (1933-2006) American politician [Dorothy Ann Willis Richards]
Inauguration speech, San Antonio, Texas (15 Jan 1991)

As reported in the San Antonio Express-News (16 Jan). In the Houston Chronicle, same date, it was quoted as "Life is not fair, but government absolutely must be." See here for more discussion.
Added on 11-Jan-21 | Last updated 11-Jan-21
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Always it is, that the hearts in the younger men are frivolous,
but when an elder man is among them, he looks behind him
and in front, so that all comes out far better for both sides.

[Αἰεὶ δ’ ὁπλοτέρων ἀνδρῶν φρένες ἠερέθονται·
οἷς δ’ ὁ γέρων μετέῃσιν ἅμα πρόσσω καὶ ὀπίσσω
λεύσσει, ὅπως ὄχ’ ἄριστα μετ’ ἀμφοτέροισι γένηται.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 3, ll. 108-110 [Menelaus] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Lattimore (1951)]
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Alt. trans.:
All young men’s hearts are still unstaid; but in those well-weigh'd deeds
An old man will consent to pass things past, and what succeeds
He looks into, that he may know, how best to make his way
Through both the fortunes of a fact, and will the worst obey.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 113-16]

And youth itself an empty wavering state:
Cool age advances, venerably wise,
Turns on all hands its deep-discerning eyes;
Sees what befell, and what may yet befall,
Concludes from both, and best provides for all.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Young men are ever of unstable mind;
But when an elder interferes, he views
Future and past together, and insures
The compact, to both parties, uninfringed.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 124-27]

For the minds of younger men are ever fluctuating; but for those among whom a senior is present, he looks at the same time both backward and forward, in order that the best results may accrue to both parties.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

For young men's spirits are too quickly stirr'd;
But in the councils check'd by rev'rend age,
Alike are weigh'd the future and the past,
And for all int'rests due provision made.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 130-34]

Young men's minds are light as air, but when an old man comes he looks before and after, deeming that which shall be fairest upon both sides.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Ever unstable are the hearts of the young; but in whatsoever an old man taketh part, he looketh both before and after, that the issue may be far the best for either side.
[tr. Murray (1924), #95]

The minds of the younger men are always flighty,
but let an old man stand his ground among them,
one who can see the days behind, the days ahead --
that is the best hope for peace, for both our armies.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 131-34]

Always in fact do the spirits in younger men flutter unsteady;
but with an elder among them, at once the before and the after
he can observe, so that things will become far better for both sides.
[tr. Merrill (2007), ll. 108-110]
Added on 26-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
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Rage is caused by a conviction, almost comic in its optimistic origins (however tragic in its effects), that a given frustration has not been written into the contract of life.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration” (2000)
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Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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Dependability, integrity, the characteristic of never knowingly doing anything wrong, that you would never cheat anyone, that you would give everybody a fair deal. Character is a sort of an all-inclusive thing. If a man has character, everyone has confidence in him. Soldiers must have confidence in their leader.

Omar Bradley (1893-1981) American general
Personal interview with Edgar Puryear (15 Feb 1963)

Quoted in Edgar Puryear, 19 Stars : A Study in Military Character and Leadership (1981).
Added on 28-Jan-16 | Last updated 28-Jan-16
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Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“My Day” (15 Oct 1947)
Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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SIMON: I’m trying to put this as delicately as I can. How do I know you won’t kill me in my sleep?
MAL: You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.
SIMON: Are you always this sentimental?
MAL: I had a good day.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 5-Mar-15 | Last updated 5-Mar-15
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We protest against unjust criticism, but we accept unearned applause.

José Narosky (b. 1930) Argentine aphorist and writer
Si Todos Los Sueños (1993)
Added on 1-Sep-14 | Last updated 1-Sep-14
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Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Debate, House of Commons (13 Oct 1943)
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More discussion of this quotation: If Anyone Says Anything Back, That Is an Outrage – Quote Investigator.
Added on 28-Mar-14 | Last updated 15-Apr-21
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Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Dictionnaire philosophique portatif, “Tolerance” (1764)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Apr-16
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We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) French writer, filmmaker, artist
Comment (1955)

On his election to Académie Française. Alt. trans.: "Of course I believe in luck. How else does one explain the successes of one's enemies?"
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-16
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Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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MARCUS: You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair; then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happened to us come because we actually deserved them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×13 “A Late Delivery from Avalon” (22 Apr 1996)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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