Pragmatic Fairness: Developing Policies with Outcome Disparity Control

We introduce a causal framework for designing optimal policies that satisfy fairness constraints. We take a pragmatic approach asking what we can do with an action space available to us and only with access to historical data. We propose two different fairness constraints: a moderation breaking constraint which aims at blocking moderation paths from the action and sensitive attribute to the outcome, and by that at reducing disparity in outcome levels as much as the provided action space permits; and an equal benefit constraint which aims at distributing gain from the new and maximized policy equally across sensitive attribute levels, and thus at keeping pre-existing preferential treatment in place or avoiding the introduction of new disparity. We introduce practical methods for implementing the constraints and illustrate their uses on experiments with semi-synthetic models.