To properly address unfairness, one needs to define fairness first. Some people think fairness means equality; some people think fairness is similar to communism. To me, fairness is a complicated concept that cannot be simply defined by one word, and fairness varies according to different situation. Generally, fairness is a condition in which everyone (here everyone can be broaden to the entire human beings) lives on the same basis or the same standard. Also, I have seen a interesting cartoon (as shown in Figure 1) which distinctly defines "Equality" and "Justice," and fairness can fall into either category depends on the issue that is being considered.
As covered in chapter 4 of the book, for resources, infrastructures, clean water and other stuffs related to basis living requirements, fairness is equality because human beings are the same no matter where one comes from or what one's race is. For example, the textbook mentions problems related to clean water resource in India. People get sick and die there. Indians deserve to have the same quality of clean water as civilians from developed countries. However, Indians do not need higher quality of water to sanitize; thus, fairness about water resource, to Indians, should fall into the category of equality.
There are other situation where fairness is justice as indicated in the cartoon. For example, as the class discussed on Tuesday, college is a place where justice is needed. For those students that have concentration difficulties or learning difficulties, they have longer time to take an exam. For our STSH class, as stated in the syllabus, ESL students can negotiate with the grading criteria. This is probably because colleges want a relative equal education result, in which case, a normal distribution of GPA probably.
Also, there is a situation where fairness is in between equality and justice. Such as college admission, college sets up different standards to students who have different backgrounds. I heard that there is a thing called "quota." Colleges set up different ratio when they admit student from different countries, states or races, so international students are competing against other international students. In state students are competing against other in state students. A specific college may want 20% African Americans out of all students, so African Americans are competing with African Americans, rather than Caucasians or Asians. Overall, in this example, justice is applied over the entire student population, whereas equality is applied in different groups of students, which I personally think is very reasonable. Even though I am an international student, I do not like such quota ( I hate it actually), I have to admit that such quota is well founded and acceptable.