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Arien Mack Editor’s Introduction FAIRNESS IS A CENTRAL MOTIVATING FORCE IN OUR PRIVATE AND p u b li c lives. It is deeply enmeshed with questions about who gets what and how it is distributed, with how we feel about the ways in which power, resources, access, even attention are divided. When allocation and distri­ bution lead to indignation, the results can be explosive: witness the civil rights movement in the United States or, earlier, the Revolutionary War; the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa; the experiment of the Soviet Union. Current examples abound, from the struggle for a Palestinian state to questions of how to handle taxation, health insur­ ance, and social security in the United States. Equality, justice, and social change all have their roots in our perceptions of fairness, and the very ability to perceive fairness is itself rooted in the behavior of our animal ancestors. It arises early in child­ hood, when it is echoed in the familiar cry of “That’s not fair.” Fairness, in fact, is a leitmotif of all social life. It is there within the family, in the workplace, in friendship, in government policies—in every aspect of our lives. Getting closer to the kinds of things we consider fair and why seems of particular importance now, when more and more people in this country feel they are being treated unfairly. We not only expect that a democratic government be just but also that it be fair. If it is perceived as not being so, it is essential to find out why and tiy to figure out what do about it. The papers in this issue were first presented at the fourteenth conference in the Social Research series, which took place on April 14-15, social research VoI 73 : No 2 : Summer 2006 v 2006, at the New School. At the conference and in this subsequent issue, scientists, policymakers, historians, philosophers, and economists explore research on perceptions of fairness and consider historical case studies in the context of what we have learned about the psychology of fairness. Arien Mack vi social research ...


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