Fairness, Gerechtigkeit, Meritokratie, die drei Konzepte sind miteinander verwandt oder doch zumindest mit einander verbunden. Fairness bezieht sich auf die Art der Behandlung von Akteuren, Gerechtigkeit darauf, dass die Relation der Behandlung die unterschiedliche Leistung in Rechnung stellt und Meritokratie scheint eine Klammer über beide zu bilden. Amartya Sen hat dies im Jahre 2000 wie folgt argumentiert:
„In fact, meritocracy is just an extension of a general system of rewarding merit, and elements of such systems have clearly been present in one form or another throughout human history. There are, it can be argued, at least two different ways of seeing merit and systems of rewarding it.
- Incentives: Actions must be rewarded for the good they do, and a system of remunerating the activities that generate good consequences would, it is presumed, tend to produce a better society. The rationale of incentive structures may be more complex than this simple statement suggests, but the idea of merits in this instrumental perspective relates to the motivation of producing better results. In this view, actions are meritorious in a derivative and contingent way. depending on the good they do, and more particularly the good than can be be brought about by rewarding them.
- Action propriety: Actions may be judged by their propriety – not by their results – and they may be rewarded according to the quality of such actions, judged in a result-independent way. Much use has been made of this approach to merit and parts of deontological ethics separate outright conduct – for praise and emulation – independent of the goodness of the consequences generated.
[…] I shall concentrate in the chapter on the view of merit in terms of results and incentives. It is, in fact, virtually the only grounded and defended theory that can be found in the contemporary economic literature (…). Indeed, the practice of rewarding good (or right) deeds for their incentive effects cannot but be an integral part of any well-functioning society. No matter what we think of the demands of ‚meritocracy‘ as it is usually defined, we can scarcely dispense with incentive systems altogether. The art of developing an incentive system lies in delineating the content of merit in such a way that it helps to generate valued consequences“ (Sen, Merit and Justice, pp.8-9)