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As a term, fairness goes back to the English word “fair” (“decent”, “orderly”). Fairness expresses a (not legally regulated) idea of justice . In German, fairness can be equated with accepted justice and appropriateness or with decency .


Fairness means decent behavior as well as a just and honest attitude towards other people. In games and sports , it means sticking to the rules of the game and thus maintaining decency and justice. Rules of fairness rely on a consensus and equal conditions for the people involved.


A theory of justice as fairness has John Rawls presented. The idea received considerable attention outside of the philosophical discussion.


In psychological diagnostics, fairness is a quality criterion for tests. The test board of trustees (the Federation of German Psychological Associations ) defines the term unfairness as the extent of systematic discrimination against certain test persons based on their ethical, socio-cultural or gender-specific group membership.

Computer science

In computer science , the concept of fairness is used in scheduling . The process scheduler of an operating system should distribute the available computing time of the CPUs in a fair manner to the processes that are ready to compute. A distinction is made between weak, strong and universally strong fairness.

In computer networks , the concept of fairness refers to the equal and equal access of all participants in a network to the available network resources.


In mathematics, the term “fair” describes a game of chance in which the expected profit is 0. This means that you don't expect a win or a loss, so the expected payout is equal to the stake. The expected profit is calculated by multiplying the profit or loss for each possible result by the probability of the result and then adding all of them. However, since this situation does not represent an economic basis for a gambling operator, because its earnings expectation would also be zero, but the operator has expenses, such games do not play a role in the gambling business, and games of chance in which the winnings are only slightly lower than the stakes apply are considered particularly fair. This applies, for example, to the game of roulette.


In substantive law , the expression of what can be considered fair depends on the legal relationship between the parties involved, in particular whether they enter into the commitment to it from a free decision and can also terminate it or terminate it legally in another way. If this is not the case, it is a legal relationship under public law , otherwise a civil law relationship. In civil legal relationships, the standards of fairness depend on whether the parties involved are consumers or entrepreneurs . It is also of great importance for fairness that bystanders, the general public or future generations are not burdened with disadvantages that those involved have to deal with themselves (prohibition of unethical externalization ). In legal relationships that are aimed at the achievement of a common purpose (coordination relationships , main case: articles of association ), different standards apply than in legal relationships of the exchange of services (transaction relationships, main case: purchase contracts ), again others in legal relationships in which one party follows the instructions of the other is subordinate (subordination relationships, main case: employment contracts of employees and bogus self-employed ).

In procedural law of is as a special form rule of law , the principle of a fair trial ( Engl . Fair trial ) had been taken from the English-speaking world.


Fairness ( fair play ) is very important in sport . In the context of sporting competitions, fairness shows itself in the efforts of the athletes to consistently and consciously comply with the rules (even under difficult conditions) and to respect the opponent as a person and as a competitor (fair play concept).


Web links

Wiktionary: Fairness  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Test Board (of the Federation of German Psychological Associations) (1986). Communication, Diagnostica , 32, 358-360.
  2. Stefan Magen: Fairness, selfishness and the role of the law, in: Chr. Engel u. a. (Ed.), Law and Behavior, Tübingen 2006 (in the publication), page 261 ff.