07 July 2022

The Prince Is Having a Ball

Prince Prospero, that is.

  • One problem with the revival of neo-Austen works (not, unfortunately, considered criticism of the weaknesses of neo-Austin works relying upon anything other than alternative ideologies) is that it neglects an underlying contextual difficulty: The presumption that the period of The Regency represented a good thing, all the while neglecting the continental casualties occurring just over the horizon (because that was largely someone else's burden).
  • There's a disturbing resonance between today's "superlawyers" and prominent judges, on the one hand, and the anthropologists of a century ago on the other. Leaving aside the personal foibles for the moment, both operate(d) in fields in which the "classics" were based on research performed solely in libraries. The painful, unstated relationship to "theology" is lurking there, too.
  • As is the painful, unstated relationship to "evidence," even when it relates to something that is properly characterized as part of the warrant and not as grounds/data. Grand theory is all very well, but specific decisions based upon that grand theory must have a factual foundation — whether that factual foundation is "scientifically valid and replicable" or "anecdotally correct in a field bounded by anecdote" (such as "guilt" in a particular criminal trial not depending upon scientific evidence).

    The major blind spot in Toulmin's model of argument and persuasion is that it does not enforce a relationship between the claim and the warrant. (This problem in "philosophy" loops back into the blind spots of "anthropology" apparent in the preceding sausage, leading one to wonder whether the sausage maker allowed an unhealthy fascination with Möbius loops to interfere with tying off the links.) Physicists and chemists understand this problem as the amorphous region where Newtonian mechanics of individual particles gives way to quantum mechanics (and perhaps the other direction, too); in American law, the closest we come is the "political question doctrine" (or, perhaps, "subject-matter jurisdiction," but that relates much more to internalizing certain externalities than to a limitation on its warrant). Which still leaves one better off than pure syllogism, which ardently depends upon the the excluded middle never being at issue.

  • But that is surely less appalling than an accounting firm being fined $100 million for allowing its employees to cheat on a test — a test on professional ethics. Well, I know one large accounting firm that will never get business from either me or any of my clients (admittedly, that firm will never notice).
  • It is also substantially less appalling than the rise of Taliban-like enforced orthodoxy in the US… which isn't exactly new, as it was on the radar with the so-called Moral Majority and should have been at issue since long before the Scopes trial (which, one might further note, the judiciary got wrong by failing to boundary-check its warrants — most people forget that John Scopes lost).
  • Conversely, consider the constructive and socially-positive uses of internet porn. Which, of course, depends a great deal on what constitutes "porn," such as displaying male genitalia at more than life size. One wonders if a student film of the Song of Solomon might qualify… and whether, for authenticity's sake, all male-presenting participants would have to prove their anatomical compliance with Hebraic law during a rather distressing "casting call" supervised by a mohel…