is the world we live in fair?please think hard

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have an abundance of answers posted, but I just wanted to clarify two things. (1) There are many more definitions of and uses of "fair" than three. (2) The idiomatic expression is personifying "the world" thus adding a little confusion to the concept.

The best definition of the concept of "fair" the adjective (as opposed to "fair" the adverb, noun and verb) is from Cambridge Dictionary online. It is: "fair adjective (RIGHT): treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating a group of people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment."

The usage of "fair" in this question is best likened to the usage in these idioms:

"Fair and square" meaning just and honest.

"No fair" meaning something contrary to the rules:as in, "That was no fair."

"Fairs fair" which is something that you say when you want someone to behave reasonably or treat you the same as other people.

(Taken from and

Of course "the world" has no volition, so the question of whether the world is fair taken in a literal sense can never be answered, but taken idiomatically, figuratively and as a personification, the answer is, "No, the world is not fair."

Figuratively speaking, the reason is that the world does not distribute events and circumstances based on justice or rightness. The world often goes contrary to humanity's perceived rules of just, right, honest. The world isn't "Consistent with rules, logic, or ethics" ( It doesn't play fair.

Perhaps on the quantum level the world is fair and adheres to all the above; but on the Newtonian mechanical level, we sure can't see it. What we see is prejudice, injustice, dishonesty, illogicality, inconsistency and the absence of ethics.

fernholz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think the world we live in is fair. If you think about it even good people can suffer. People get diseases when they have done nothing to deserve it. Others are abused and neglected, even children, who are innocent victims. This isn't fair!

As far as the rest of the world. Is it fair that we waste food while others are starving TO DEATH? Is it fair that movie stars and athletes make more making a movie or playing a game than I will in a lifetime. I don't think so!

If life were fair everyone would be living comfortably and have enough to eat and drink. Only the bad people in the world (murderers, terrorists, etc.) would suffer. We would have world peace, no hunger, people would help each other and be kind.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems like you'd have to define "fair" if you are going to answer this question.  So, if you're supposed to answer this for class, I'd suggest you start by defining fair -- there's no right answer, but you need to define it if you are going to determine whether the world is fair.

To me, fairness is in whether what happens to you in life is in line with what you deserve.  By that definition, of course the world isn't fair.  If it were, for example, only bad people would get cancer or get injured or killed in car wrecks.

Is the world today more fair than what's portrayed in "The Crucible?"  Definitely.  At least nowadays the government is a lot less likely to persecute you for no good reason.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow this is a topic we can look at from a pragmatic or spiritual perspective. If one is spiritual then life is fair as one will either receive and experience those life events assigned to be part of life. Consequently, we will also be given the strength to deal with whatever is thrown our way if we choose.

Pragmatically, hell no life isn't fair. Innocent people are convicted. Guilty people go free. Drunk drivers kill people. Children die at the hands of their parents, or family, or strangers, or pedophiles. Governments in the world still commit genocide. And etc.

Pehaps we should consider what part and/or obligation we have in making the world more fair. 

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the answer that most people will say "no" and I agree. One fundamental fact that virtually all people will agree with is that no one is perfect and no society is perfect. In the light of these imperfections, there will be many injustices of differing degree and kind. What makes things even more pessimistic is that even with advancement and knowledge, things are not getting better. To make a long story short, inequalities, injustices, sexism, bigotry, etc. all exist. The best thing that we can do is admit to them and seek to lessen them.

englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life is what you make of it.  If you follow the rules, it'll probably be more fair than it would be if you didn't.  However, LIFE is not always fair.  People have horrible accidents, but that's not necessarily the world's fault.  Are people falsely accused?  Of course.  Do people make mistakes?  Every day.  Do innocent people die at the hands of others?  Yes.  Because of these things, I would say that the world might be more unfair than fair. 

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sadly, no, life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people, and bad people are rewarded in positive ways. However, most people would probably agree that each and every one of us are beset with bad luck now and again, and you will rarely ever hear people claiming to be overwhelmed by good fortune. Such is life. We cannot always control what happens to us, but a positive outlook helps to override the feelings of a life that is unfair.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life is not fair.  Life will never be fair.  Utopia you don't get.  The best we can work towards or hope for is that injustices are minimized over time.

As bad as things are perceived to be, life appears to have been a whole lot unfairer not so long ago.


scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course, the world isn't fair and wasn't fair during the Salem Witch Trials and during the Red Scare. Justice systems are run by humans who are imperfect and who, therefore, make unfair decisions.

rena4u | Student

The world we live in is not all that fair, as in just and right. Not everyone follows the rules/laws that are laid down. Also, there are still some effect from the past are still around. Like the sterotype of certain races and groups of people. But then again life in general is not fair. So I think that the world we live in, as a whole, is not

kerust | Student

Is life fair? Absolutely not. It's a harsh reality of life, but it is what it is. You have to be adaptable to changing situations and take the good with the bad. The important thing to remember is to always do your best; hold your head up high; and to conquer each day with a zest for life!

krishna-agrawala | Student

The word fair has several meanings. For example:

  1. Not favouring one more than any other.
  2. According to rules.
  3. Not good and not bad, just average.

It appears to me that the word fair as used in this discussion post has none of these meanings. It looks like it is used more as meaning something not to our liking.

I do not see how life can be unfair as per the normal meanings of word fair.

If the statement about life not being fair is an individual's expression of dissatisfaction with his or her life, I see no point in someone else disputing it.

In sum total, I would like to say the life is neither fair or unfair. The life does not act, we do, calling life fair or unfair is just an expression of our satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what we get in return.

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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