As Alec Baldwin didn’t say, A. B. L. Always be learning.
I’ve spent much of the past couple of weeks working on a law-review article. In the course of that work, I’ve learned something new about four different topics:
- The sorites paradox. It’s invaluable for putting vagueness in context. For more, go to Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Boosters and hedges. A booster is a word or phrase used to support a claim or express a viewpoint more assertively and convincingly; the word certainly is a booster. A hedge is a word or phrase that makes a statement less forceful or assertive; the word probably is a hedge. Boosters and hedges are glaring when they appear in contexts where you don’t expect them. My thanks to @world_on_a_wire and @Rhetoricked for introducing me to these concepts.
- The distinction under English law between promissory conditions and warranties. After years of not bothering to look into it, I finally did this post about it.
- The logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or appeal to popularity. (Go here for Logically Fallacious’s account.) I think it’s the last line of defense for contract-drafting traditionalists, after the notion of “tested” contract language. My thanks to @DanRubins for figuring out what I was looking for.
In the case of two of these topics, enlightenment came via Twitter. So besides being a sinkhole of despair and iniquity, it’s sporadically a source of serendipity.
One might question—actually, I’m the one questioning—the value of this sort of esoterica. Well, I’ll continue doing my bit as a tiny cog in the machinery of civilization. It’s all I’m equipped to do. And besides, it’s fun.
By the way, for those of you wondering about my Alec Baldwin reference: