Re: On the Value of Professors to Law

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 13:45:17 -0700 (PDT)

... I've found a way to say this in a very simple way.

Imagine two people, X and Y, who are "originalists." One is a professor (X) who 
has as his or her intellectual concern philosophy of law, and the other (Y) is 
... [name occupation]. When the professor goes to work, chances are he or she 
thinks about or works on the matter in the course of employment quite regularly 
(reading, teaching, writing). The other person doesn't. It's a leisure activity 
for him or her. Moreover, the information consumed may not be quite different. 

But here's the kicker. Although both have similar conclusions about "what the 
constitution means," ask yourself -- who is more helpful in a discussion that 
is 

critical about the belief system? Imagine the discussion going into surrounding 
areas: language, history, Wittgenstein, etc. Then it goes into areas 
unforeseen: 

e.g., the philosophy of codification. Imagine the wealth of things one could 
theoretically access for such a discussion. Now ask yourself this: what is the 
likely responses you get from the non-professor when inspecting these things? 
What kind of breadth is there? Wouldn't the responses be something resembling 
rhetoric, "persuasion," debate and other feeling-things?  

Isn't it rather clear, that,  in general, the professor is much more helpful to 
discuss with, in terms of what is given and received? Doesn't the professor 
tend 

to take in the pitfalls you show him or her (or vica versa), so that, next 
time, 

those issues are addressed? Note that the overall allegiance doesn't need to 
change in anyone -- the issue isn't whether you "win." The issue is always how 
considerate the belief system is. The issue is always how seductive the 
thoughts 

are. Acadmics don't discuss intellectual issues to hear people confess 
something. They want their thoughts nurtured. 

You see, I don't see it an issue of manners. It isn't whether you bow or tip 
your hat. It isn't even, necessarily, that you are politically invective. It's 
whether what you offer is something that the minds of the list haven't on their 
own thought of and that helps the understanding of something of concern for its 
own sake. Professors already have intellectual roots that are growing deeper in 
the earth by the day (hopefully). And so if someone throws a haymaker or 
confesses their allegiance about something, the issue isn't one of screening it 
for respect or first-amend values. The issue is whether the product is 
nourishing to the market. The issue, in short, is whether it informs or 
enlightens the list or calls forth something that does.  

Here is my point. If the desire is considerate thought, those whose occupation 
it is for such a thing surely have some comparative advantage, don't they? (Or 
shouldn't they?).  So if you ban or reconfigure the participation on this list, 
do it NOT because of manners. Do it because the tendency is such that the life 
occupation may not properly endear the discourse. 

Regards and thanks.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
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