You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!

# Can fairness, equality, and freedom coexist?

polly-gone
In your opinion, is it possible for fairness, equality, and freedom to coexist?

Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle; the angles of the triangle must always add to 180 degrees. To have a greater amount of freedom, you must have less fairness and equality. To have a greater amount of fairness, you must have less freedom and equality. To have a greater amount of equality, you must have less freedom and fairness.

Take, for example, economic equality. If it is going to be possible for every single person to be equal from an economic standpoint, there must be much less fairness and freedom. In a world with economic equality, it would not be fair to those who have the ability to achieve greater if they aren't given the opportunity to achieve greater, and economic equality would remove their freedom to have the opportunity to achieve greater.

To me, equality is what you have, fairness is your opportunity, and freedom is your ability to exercise your opportunity.
Bluedoll
Sounds reasonable and I can see how the triangle could apply to many different things regarding three qualities of a system, mankind’s morality or even could apply to an individual person or thing.

In relation to just economics would it be effective to draw the triangle as graph? If so the horizontal line or time line on the bottom would represent freedom. That is fitting because freedom is a pursuit which continues across the page as a standard (flat line).

The vertical line at 90 degrees to the horizontal line to the suit the needs of the graph for the purpose of this application (creating a graph) would be in relation to equality (what you have). This could effectively be translated to indicate GNP for example. Where the ‘actual’ line to be drawn would go (number of decrees to the horizontal) would line up with the last variable at any given time.

Therefore to complete the triangle there would be fairness. What we can derive then from the construction of a graph is that more economic greatest can be achieved with greater or less fairness?

Please say if this graphical representation makes perfect sense. Of course for each country or region the triangle would be larger or smaller in scale.
deanhills
 polly-gone wrote: In your opinion, is it possible for fairness, equality, and freedom to coexist?
No, I don't think they can. Life just is not fair period. All of us are born unequal as not one of us is a copy of the other. We come with different intelligence, different ways of looking at things, different ways of interpreting things, different shapes and sizes, different looks. We can strive for equality, in trying to accept our differences, but then that of course can be in conflict with freedom of expression. As perhaps those who are superior in attributes may feel their freedom may be curtailed when they have to consider those with lesser attributes as their equal.
Bikerman
 polly-gone wrote: In your opinion, is it possible for fairness, equality, and freedom to coexist? Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle; the angles of the triangle must always add to 180 degrees. To have a greater amount of freedom, you must have less fairness and equality. To have a greater amount of fairness, you must have less freedom and equality. To have a greater amount of equality, you must have less freedom and fairness.
Hmm...I don't see why this follows. It rather depends on:
a) How you define equality. If you define equality in terms of access and opportunity then it is perfectly legitimate for some people to have more money than others and still regard themselves as equal.
b) How you define fairness. If you define fairness as 'freedom from bias' then so long as the state does not discriminate against particular people or groups of people then the state can be said to be fair.
Given these definitions there doesn't seem to me to be any inherent conflict between the three.
 Quote: Take, for example, economic equality. If it is going to be possible for every single person to be equal from an economic standpoint, there must be much less fairness and freedom. In a world with economic equality, it would not be fair to those who have the ability to achieve greater if they aren't given the opportunity to achieve greater, and economic equality would remove their freedom to have the opportunity to achieve greater.
But this is a very restricted and partial use of the word 'equality' and I don't think it is particularly useful. If you want to use it in such a prescriptive manner then equality is impossible because it would require everyone to have not just the same pay, but the same terms and conditions of work, and the same status in society. In other words everyone would have to do the same job.
If you adopt a more realistic meaning of equality - equality of access and opportunity - then this tension disappears. Not everyone would WISH to do a job with extremely high pay but high levels of stress. Some people want to work in a particular role or career. The test of equality is, therefore, COULD they choose to do the highly paid job if that was their goal?
LittleBlackKitten
Look at Star Trek - the idealism that those three things can and do exist, at least to Starfleet, and it works quite well. I beleve it can, as long as EVERYONE participates in knowledge and tolerance.
ocalhoun
 polly-gone wrote: Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle;

Well, freedom is directly opposed to security.
(If you want to be guaranteed economic security, then you must sacrifice economic freedom; if you want to be guaranteed personal security, you must sacrifice personal freedom... And vice versa.)

If you define equality to include economic security, then yes, freedom is its opposite (in that regard).
Otherwise, freedom is only opposed to equality and fairness in the sense that your freedom to be unequal and unfair to other people is restricted.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
 polly-gone wrote: Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle;

Well, freedom is directly opposed to security.
(If you want to be guaranteed economic security, then you must sacrifice economic freedom; if you want to be guaranteed personal security, you must sacrifice personal freedom... And vice versa.)
The first follows, but the second doesn't. Personal freedom can be said to be inversely proportional to state security, but I don't think that holds at the personal level. The individual can be free but choose not to exercise certain freedoms that would compromise security/safety...
ocalhoun
 Bikerman wrote: I don't think that holds at the personal level. The individual can be free but choose not to exercise certain freedoms that would compromise security/safety...

It's a bit more subtle at the personal level.
Most decisions to avoid danger will restrict the actions you can take.
(For example, avoiding the risk of flying will limit your freedom to travel, even if this avoidance is self-imposed.)
At the personal level, it's mostly benign though, because you can reverse it at any time, whenever you're willing to take the risk.
The trend of sacrificing freedom in exchange for safety/security only becomes onerous when it is applied at the group level, when the accepted level of risk will no longer be flexible.
Bikerman
But if we stick with the notion of freedom as 'lack of external constraints or duress' then whether or not the individual chooses to exercise their freedoms, they still have them....
ocalhoun
 Bikerman wrote: But if we stick with the notion of freedom as 'lack of external constraints or duress' then whether or not the individual chooses to exercise their freedoms, they still have them....

The key word there being 'external'.
Of course when you reduce it down to the individual level, there can be no external input considered, so when examined at a strictly personal level, every person has 100% freedom at all times.

I think, though, that when we examine it at an individual/personal level, we need to also consider internal (self-imposed) constraints.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
 Bikerman wrote: But if we stick with the notion of freedom as 'lack of external constraints or duress' then whether or not the individual chooses to exercise their freedoms, they still have them....

The key word there being 'external'.
Of course when you reduce it down to the individual level, there can be no external input considered, so when examined at a strictly personal level, every person has 100% freedom at all times.
I don't follow that. The individual is constrained by externalities and to that extent the individual's freedom is reduced. You appear to be saying that the individual is free to do what the individual is free to do...a tautology...
ocalhoun
 Bikerman wrote: The individual is constrained by externalities and to that extent the individual's freedom is reduced. You appear to be saying that the individual is free to do what the individual is free to do...a tautology...

Normally when examining personal freedom its fine to look only at external constraints.
It becomes a tautology when viewed strictly at the personal level though, since the only constraints are the self-imposed ones. Freedom by this definition* is meaningless at the personal level, so we must adopt a somewhat different definition if we are to look at it as this level.

*Defined as the lack of external constraints.

Also, the topic originally was freedom vs. equality & fairness.
I'm the main one responsible for sidetracking the discussion to freedom vs. security, and further sidetracking to group level vs. personal level views of freedom.
If you want to continue along those lines, please make a new topic about it, or use your mod-powers to split the topic... I've been sidetracking too many threads lately, and I'm trying to stop.
c'tair
ocalhoun wrote:
 polly-gone wrote: Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle;

Well, freedom is directly opposed to security.
(If you want to be guaranteed economic security, then you must sacrifice economic freedom; if you want to be guaranteed personal security, you must sacrifice personal freedom... And vice versa.)

Is that really necessary? That's what we're being told, yes, but buying a nice little Beretta or a Ruger would give you lots of security without sacrificing your freedom, wouldn't it?

Check out this sweet little news article: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=41196

Also, what do we consider freedom? Because technically we have much "freedom" today - we can buy what we want, go where we want, believe whatever we want etc. but what about our autonomy? I see that while 'freedom' has flourished, our autonomy has suffered greatly. You can travel wherever you want as long as you can afford it, you can believe whatever you want as long it's not too obscene or taboo, you can buy whatever you want... but do you really want it, or was it just watching hours of commercials or social pressures that makes you wanna buy it?
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
 polly-gone wrote: In your opinion, is it possible for fairness, equality, and freedom to coexist? Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle; the angles of the triangle must always add to 180 degrees. To have a greater amount of freedom, you must have less fairness and equality. To have a greater amount of fairness, you must have less freedom and equality. To have a greater amount of equality, you must have less freedom and fairness.
Hmm...I don't see why this follows. It rather depends on:
a) How you define equality. If you define equality in terms of access and opportunity then it is perfectly legitimate for some people to have more money than others and still regard themselves as equal.
b) How you define fairness. If you define fairness as 'freedom from bias' then so long as the state does not discriminate against particular people or groups of people then the state can be said to be fair.
Given these definitions there doesn't seem to me to be any inherent conflict between the three.
 Quote: Take, for example, economic equality. If it is going to be possible for every single person to be equal from an economic standpoint, there must be much less fairness and freedom. In a world with economic equality, it would not be fair to those who have the ability to achieve greater if they aren't given the opportunity to achieve greater, and economic equality would remove their freedom to have the opportunity to achieve greater.
But this is a very restricted and partial use of the word 'equality' and I don't think it is particularly useful. If you want to use it in such a prescriptive manner then equality is impossible because it would require everyone to have not just the same pay, but the same terms and conditions of work, and the same status in society. In other words everyone would have to do the same job.
If you adopt a more realistic meaning of equality - equality of access and opportunity - then this tension disappears. Not everyone would WISH to do a job with extremely high pay but high levels of stress. Some people want to work in a particular role or career. The test of equality is, therefore, COULD they choose to do the highly paid job if that was their goal?

A perfect post. You identified the problem, showed why it's a problem, then went on to suggest and justify a solution.

i haven't replied because i was trying to think of analogies to show the problem. So far, i have only been able to find one for "fairness", not "freedom" or "equality", although i have one half-finished for "freedom", so i'll just share what i have.

If you define "fairness" as "opportunity", then a court of law can't be fair, because a criminal caught in the act with mountains of evidence against them and an innocent person with not a shred of evidence against them do not have equal opportunity to be set free. That makes no sense. A better definition for fairness is the lack of unjustifiable bias. In a court of law, there should be no bias in the decision-making process that is not justified by the evidence presented... all of the court procedures are about making that happen. That's why courts are fair (in theory), even though not everyone has the same opportunities for a good result.

If you define "freedom" as ability to exercise opportunity, then freedom is totally and completely impossible, because my opportunities are always restricted, even if only by my own choices and pure logic. For example, a bachelor/spinster is defined as someone who is not married, so i can't possibly exercise the opportunity to be both a bachelor/spinster and a married person, therefore freedom is just impossible. i think a better definition for freedom - but i need to do more work on this before i can commit to it - is the lack of unjustified constraints. The constraint of being only a bachelor/spinster OR a married person is obviously justified, by virtue of definition, therefore i can still be called "free" even though i can't be both of those things at the same time.

"Equality" i'm still working on.

 c'tair wrote: Is that really necessary? That's what we're being told, yes, but buying a nice little Beretta or a Ruger would give you lots of security without sacrificing your freedom, wouldn't it? Check out this sweet little news article: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=41196

You might want to check your sources more carefully. ^_^;

Observe what two minutes of Googling turns up.

First, i questioned whether there might be some other reason for Morton Grove having faster growing crime statistics than Kennesaw, besides the presence/absence of guns. i know from general knowledge that towns in or near growing urban areas have far more crime problems than towns in rural areas. Quick trip to Google maps... see for yourself!

Course, that doesn't prove anything. So, figuring that if these claimed facts are true, this would be big news and well worth mentioning, i decided to check the two towns' Wikipedia pages. On the Morton Grove page there is no mention of any bad effects from the gun ban except Supreme Court rulings against it. (The ban was lifted in 2008 because of the Supreme Court rulings - the article you linked to was from 2007. Incidentally, in 2007, Morton Grove was listed as one of the 10 best towns for families, based on - among other things - low crime rate.) On the Kennesaw page... there it was: Statistical analysis of the data over a longer period of time did not show any evidence that the law reduced the rate of home burglaries in Kennesaw.

Well, now the evidence is a bit shaky, but let's do some more research on our own. A quick check of crime statistics in Morton Grove doesn't quite show it to be the crime-ridden cesspool the article suggested. The crime statistics in Kennesaw seem comparable. In fact, we can actually compare them, and they really are comparable. You are far more likely to be murdered or robbed in Kennesaw (and to have your car stolen, but, that's not relevant). In Morton Grove there is a much higher chance of being assaulted (but apparently a much better chance of surviving the assault ^_^). But the personal crime risk is almost identical (but, ironically, very slightler lower in Morton Grove).

So, basically, it seems that something about the original article is... a little fishy. Raw evidence (and, apparently, a long-term statistical analysis) don't seem to corroborate what the article says. That's odd, but why would the article be so wrong? What motivation could it possibly have for skewing the facts?

Another quick trip to Wikipedia to look up "WorldNetDaily": WorldNetDaily (WND) is an American web site that publishes news and associated content from a U.S. conservative perspective.

Mystery solved.

For the record, simply owning a gun does require sacrificing some freedom if you live in a society. You take on responsibility for making sure the weapon is secure and safe all the time - 24/7. i don't really see that they add all that much security either. Guns are very dangerous tools; they can and do cause injuries even in people who are careful. (In fact, my parents just rented a house to a man who was a former gun enthusiast, who accidentally shot up his hand and killed his young son.) Furthermore, allowing gun ownership in general in a society also requires the members of that society to accept that things are going to be a little bit more dangerous with guns around than without. Gun proponents like to claim that more guns equals less crime, but the worldwide facts contradict that claim (and, as i just showed, that particular article doesn't really change the playing field), and reasoning doesn't support the case either.
polly-gone
Bikerman wrote:
 polly-gone wrote: In your opinion, is it possible for fairness, equality, and freedom to coexist? Personally, I view fairness, equality, and freedom to exist on a triangle; the angles of the triangle must always add to 180 degrees. To have a greater amount of freedom, you must have less fairness and equality. To have a greater amount of fairness, you must have less freedom and equality. To have a greater amount of equality, you must have less freedom and fairness.
Hmm...I don't see why this follows. It rather depends on:
a) How you define equality. If you define equality in terms of access and opportunity then it is perfectly legitimate for some people to have more money than others and still regard themselves as equal.
b) How you define fairness. If you define fairness as 'freedom from bias' then so long as the state does not discriminate against particular people or groups of people then the state can be said to be fair.
Given these definitions there doesn't seem to me to be any inherent conflict between the three.
 Quote: Take, for example, economic equality. If it is going to be possible for every single person to be equal from an economic standpoint, there must be much less fairness and freedom. In a world with economic equality, it would not be fair to those who have the ability to achieve greater if they aren't given the opportunity to achieve greater, and economic equality would remove their freedom to have the opportunity to achieve greater.
But this is a very restricted and partial use of the word 'equality' and I don't think it is particularly useful. If you want to use it in such a prescriptive manner then equality is impossible because it would require everyone to have not just the same pay, but the same terms and conditions of work, and the same status in society. In other words everyone would have to do the same job.
If you adopt a more realistic meaning of equality - equality of access and opportunity - then this tension disappears. Not everyone would WISH to do a job with extremely high pay but high levels of stress. Some people want to work in a particular role or career. The test of equality is, therefore, COULD they choose to do the highly paid job if that was their goal?

Well, the whole point of this depends on your definitions of equality, freedom, and fairness. It's not really possible to comprehend the big picture of this discussion because there are simply too many variables to account for.

Let me give you a few very specific examples:

In America, when you are looking for a job, you have a fair chance at getting a specific job. As I said originally, fairness is your opportunity. If I apply for a job and you apply for a job, we have a fair chance because it is illegal to discriminate against age, race, gender, anything like that.

Now, we also have equal freedom to get a job. In my initial argument I said that freedom is your ability to exercise your opportunity. I can apply for that job if I want to, or I can decide not to. I have the same freedom that you have to go out and apply for that job.

Now, for argument's sake, let's say that we are both 30 years old, male, valedictorian in high school, IQ of 130, both accepted to Generic U's School of Engineering with full scholarships.

In this situation we are equal and we have complete freedom. Nothing can really be considered "fair" here, because nothing is really happening. I supposed you could argue that we both have the same things, so we are equal, we both have the same opportunity, so we are equal, and we both have the same ability to exercise our opportunity, so we both have freedom, but for that to be true of everyone, everyone would have to be the exact same person.

(As I am typing this up I thought of another point. When examining the triangle that is equality, freedom, and fairness, you can't compare them all on the large scale because there are too many variables, and when you compare them on a small scale, it's not a true representation of the triangle as a whole.)

So were are fair, equal, and free the day after high school ends? Now, let's say we both go off to Generic U. I study hard, but you decide to slack off because high school stressed you out. I pass every class and have a GPA of 4.0, but you fail 3 classes and have a GPA of 2.0.

We both had the same things, equality; opportunity, fairness; ability to exercise the opportunity, freedom.

But now, I graduate in 4 years with a 4.0. You slacked off, it took you 2 years to really get your act together, and you graduated after 6 years. Now, my 4.0 was good enough to enter a work-study program and I had a job at Super Engineering, Inc. when I was a sophomore in college. Your 2.0 was not good enough so you couldn't enter the program at all while you were in college.

When it is six years after we graduate high school, we are both 24, I have already had 4 years of experience working at Super Engineering, Inc., but you are just now entering the work force at Pretty Good Engineering, Inc., because Super Engineering thought your GPA was just too low.

Today, we are 30 and Super Engineering is looking to replace their chief engineer because he forgot that you can't divide by zero and a building collapsed. I have been in the work force for 10 years and I have done many important projects with Super Engineering, Inc. You have only been there 6, and Pretty Good Engineering never managed to get any big contracts, so you have tons of experience collaborating on small projects.

We both put in applications.

We have an equal opportunity (fair), equal ability to exercise that opportunity (freedom to put in an application), but what we have is not equal.

I get the job and you do not because of my better credentials.

That's not equal at all.
pentangeli
It's interesting that all of your examples and analogies seem to deal with financial or economical status. Ironically, you're answering your own question by using those. Where ever there is money, you'll find the antithesis of all 3 alive and well. You need the opposite of all 3 of those for there to be a monetary system at all. Historically, unfairness, inequality, and lack of freedom have been coexisting relentlessly since before history was even written. We have done so in this model through world wars, genocide, atom bombs and slavery. Theoretically, in light of the armageddons we've endured adhering to chaos, a purist's Marxist approach may seem even less fantastic, and maybe even doable, but from all the Machiavellian, fine-toothed comb thorough analysis, both political and intellectual in debunking utopian ideology, I've yet to hear anyone just actually tell the firm plain truth: It's simply not marketable.
SonLight
 polly-gone wrote: We both had the same things, equality; opportunity, fairness; ability to exercise the opportunity, freedom. But now, I graduate in 4 years with a 4.0. You slacked off, it took you 2 years to really get your act together, and you graduated after 6 years. Now, my 4.0 was good enough to enter a work-study program and I had a job at Super Engineering, Inc. when I was a sophomore in college. Your 2.0 was not good enough so you couldn't enter the program at all while you were in college. When it is six years after we graduate high school, we are both 24, I have already had 4 years of experience working at Super Engineering, Inc., but you are just now entering the work force at Pretty Good Engineering, Inc., because Super Engineering thought your GPA was just too low. Today, we are 30 and Super Engineering is looking to replace their chief engineer because he forgot that you can't divide by zero and a building collapsed. I have been in the work force for 10 years and I have done many important projects with Super Engineering, Inc. You have only been there 6, and Pretty Good Engineering never managed to get any big contracts, so you have tons of experience collaborating on small projects. We both put in applications. We have an equal opportunity (fair), equal ability to exercise that opportunity (freedom to put in an application), but what we have is not equal. I get the job and you do not because of my better credentials. That's not equal at all.

I think you've given an excellent example of circumstances when equality is undesirable. When a company needs to replace someone whose carelessness caused a building to collapse, I don't want them to hire someone who is likely to repeat the performance. As long as merit can be considered in choosing who to give an opportunity, it appears that equality [in the sense you define it] is compromised.

I do see some value in allowing the underdog, maybe even your lazy college friend, to have an opportunity to demonstrate commitment and have a chance to redeem himself that goes beyond fairness. In this case, some of your freedom might be taken away and given to him, so I see the total freedom to be unchanged. Fairness would of course be compromised. Such leveling opportunities should be given sparingly, but I think they should be available occasionally.
Indi
 polly-gone wrote: Well, the whole point of this depends on your definitions of equality, freedom, and fairness. It's not really possible to comprehend the big picture of this discussion because there are simply too many variables to account for. Let me give you a few very specific examples: In America, when you are looking for a job, you have a fair chance at getting a specific job. As I said originally, fairness is your opportunity. If I apply for a job and you apply for a job, we have a fair chance because it is illegal to discriminate against age, race, gender, anything like that. Now, we also have equal freedom to get a job. In my initial argument I said that freedom is your ability to exercise your opportunity. I can apply for that job if I want to, or I can decide not to. I have the same freedom that you have to go out and apply for that job.

i don't think fairness means what you think it means, and this bit shows that. You mentioned that fairness meant no discrimination based on age, race, gender, etc.... but that's wrong on two counts. First of all, sometimes it is absolutely appropriate to discriminate based on age, race and gender. For example, if i were hiring an actor to play Bayard Rustin in a movie based on his life, how could i possibly hire a white woman? Secondly, even when there is no discrimination based on age, race, gender, etc., discrimination still necessarily exists. For example, if i were hiring a surgeon for a cruise ship, i would have to discriminate both against people who aren't doctors and people who can't handle sea travel, among other things.

Your definition of fairness seems to work only because you are drawing the line of "opportunity" in strange places. For example, in the job application case, you say everyone has the opportunity to apply for the job, therefore the job application process is fair. But that's absurd, because while everyone may have the opportunity to apply, not everyone has the opportunity to get the job, and getting the job is what matters, not applying. It's like saying a food dispensary is fair if everyone has the same opportunity to line up, even though only certain privileged people will actually be given any food while the rest starve. That's not a reasonable definition of fairness.

Now try my definition of fairness: the lack of unjustifiable bias. Is discriminating based on race and gender for the actor to play Bayard Rustin unjustifiable? No, it's perfectly justifiable. So long as i don't discriminate based on something unjustified (for example, refusing actors who don't share my political views), my casting call would be fair. Is discriminating based on the lack of medical credentials or the inability to handle sea travel unjustifiable in the case of the ship's surgeon? No, it's perfectly justifiable. So long as i don't discriminate on something unjustified - like race, gender, or age - then my hiring of the ship's surgeon would be done fairly. Is discriminating based on privilege at the food dispensary unjustifiable? Yes, it is, so the food dispensary would not be fair if that's how it worked. And so on.

 polly-gone wrote: Now, for argument's sake, let's say that we are both 30 years old, male, valedictorian in high school, IQ of 130, both accepted to Generic U's School of Engineering with full scholarships. In this situation we are equal and we have complete freedom. Nothing can really be considered "fair" here, because nothing is really happening. I supposed you could argue that we both have the same things, so we are equal, we both have the same opportunity, so we are equal, and we both have the same ability to exercise our opportunity, so we both have freedom, but for that to be true of everyone, everyone would have to be the exact same person. (As I am typing this up I thought of another point. When examining the triangle that is equality, freedom, and fairness, you can't compare them all on the large scale because there are too many variables, and when you compare them on a small scale, it's not a true representation of the triangle as a whole.) So were are fair, equal, and free the day after high school ends? Now, let's say we both go off to Generic U. I study hard, but you decide to slack off because high school stressed you out. I pass every class and have a GPA of 4.0, but you fail 3 classes and have a GPA of 2.0. We both had the same things, equality; opportunity, fairness; ability to exercise the opportunity, freedom. But now, I graduate in 4 years with a 4.0. You slacked off, it took you 2 years to really get your act together, and you graduated after 6 years. Now, my 4.0 was good enough to enter a work-study program and I had a job at Super Engineering, Inc. when I was a sophomore in college. Your 2.0 was not good enough so you couldn't enter the program at all while you were in college. When it is six years after we graduate high school, we are both 24, I have already had 4 years of experience working at Super Engineering, Inc., but you are just now entering the work force at Pretty Good Engineering, Inc., because Super Engineering thought your GPA was just too low. Today, we are 30 and Super Engineering is looking to replace their chief engineer because he forgot that you can't divide by zero and a building collapsed. I have been in the work force for 10 years and I have done many important projects with Super Engineering, Inc. You have only been there 6, and Pretty Good Engineering never managed to get any big contracts, so you have tons of experience collaborating on small projects. We both put in applications. We have an equal opportunity (fair), equal ability to exercise that opportunity (freedom to put in an application), but what we have is not equal. I get the job and you do not because of my better credentials. That's not equal at all.

i would say that at every stage of your example, freedom and fairness exist - in other words, your example doesn't really include any cases where you or i aren't free, or where the situation isn't fair. As for equality, i'm not entirely sure how to define or measure equality, but i'll deal with that in a second.

So long as the hiring process at Super Engineering doesn't unduly discriminate, it's fair. Obviously because you have far more experience, you should get the job - but that's justified discrimination, so there's nothing unfair about it. If you got the job because you were white and i were not, that would be unjustified (for an engineering job, race shouldn't matter), and in that case the situation would not be fair.

Similarly, unless - for example - Pretty Good Engineering had me under a contract that prevented me from working at Super Engineering, we would both be free to apply and (potentially) accept the job. If PGE did have me under a contract, that contract is not a objectively justifiable reason against me applying to SE (it's justifiable to PGE, but not to me, you, SE or anyone or anything else). In other words, if i were under contract at PGE, that would be an unjustifiable constraint against my ability to apply to or work at SE - therefore i would not be free to apply or accept the job.