Friday, May 03, 2013

On the black dog syndrome

I have read from time to time of the Black Dog Syndrome, which is probably a myth. It is interesting to think about why would there be a preference for or against a dog of a particular color, and how could it ever be proven. This topic is also of interest because of the three dogs I have owned since 1991, Ladybug (2010 - present), Chrissy (1991 - 2006), and Jenna (2007-2008).

Comparing law and science

I have been studying this article titled "The Law of Physics & the Physics of Laws," by Judge Kelsey, published in 2012 in the Regent University Law Review, in which he endeavors to "rake through the ashes of science (as well as some of its hot coals)" in the pursuit of "symmetries that reinforce our understanding of the law."

In the first section, titled "An Underlying Order," he points to the historical view of common law scholars that the law like sciences derived from universal truths, that were capable of being discovered incrementally through the process of deciding individual cases. It brings to mind the concept from Revolutionary times, that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," that were natural laws that preceded the institutions of the legislatures and the courts. It also makes me think of the dismissal by Justice Holmes and other "legal realists" of the validity of the quest for natural law.

The second section makes interesting comparisons between the physical laws of inertia and the doctrine of stare decisis, and also between Newton's law of motion and the adversary system. He suggests that judicial precedents have "mass," that consist of "the strength of judicial consensus on the truth of the precedent and the longevity of its journey over time," that must be overcome for the law to change, and that absent sufficient force for change to overcome this mass, the precedents will "simply move from age to age along their original trajectories." He also suggests that the adversary system in its reliance on the concept that "truth can best be found in the competing contest between opposing forces" corresponds with the Newtonian concept that "all forces in come in pairs."

The third section compares the difficulty of categorizing and determining the truth, in law and in science. He compares the difficulty of scientists in characterizing the nature of light with the challenge for lawyers of drawing the line between law and equity - a task which continues into the modern age, for example, where there is an issue of the right to a jury trial. He concludes with the problem of "doubt," in science and the law, which seems to me the most interesting of these several points - how do we overcome the problem of knowing what is true, when the quest for truth itself may obscure the truth? The priority of the opposing parties is to win the case, with the result that " lawyers and jurists alike have known for centuries that irrefutable truth is almost always, if not invariably, garbled by the exercise of discovering it."

This article seems like the introduction to a seminar on the philosophy or history of law, the sort of class that I signed up for whenever I could, back in the day, when I had professors like John Simmons and Charles McCurdy.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

On launching out into the deepest waters

A few days ago, Mitt Romney gave the commencement address at Southern Virginia University, as shown here, and advised the graduates to go out into the deep waters, like Jesus instructed Peter and the other fishermen. In particular, he told them to get married and have children. I can't say that I was trying to keep up with Romney, but I jumped into the deep end in 2011 and married Jill and started living with four step-children, three of them girls. My biggest regret to date is that the oldest - the prom girl in red with her old step-dad - will be gone from our house all too soon, but then again Romney in the same speech declared that is the "new American Dream," getting the children out of the house you own. It has been a few years since I last posed with a high school senior.