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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If You Win You Lose...?

I've mentioned this basic paradox previously, but recently ran across it again, and find it worth a re-telling:

Wiley was a young law student who apprenticed under a keen-minded legal genius named Mencius. Mencius made the same contract with all his students: They need pay him no instructional fee until after they won their first case, at which point his stipend would immediately come due. But after completing his education Wiley decided to forego law practice after all, and become a car mechanic instead, thus not paying Mencius anything. Frustrated, Mencius claimed that failing to practice law was not one of the permissible options, and sued Wiley to attain his just compensation, at which point Wiley acted in his own defense.
Mencius believed he had an open-and-shut case for getting his money: if he WON the court case then the judge would be ordering Wiley to pay the fee that was owed. AND, if Mencius LOST the case, then that would mean it was Wiley's first court victory, and by contract, he would now have to pay Mencius the same fee due. To Mencius it was a no-lose situation!

However, Wiley saw matters in a completely opposite way: IF he WON the case then it would mean that the judge was ruling that he was NOT required to pay his former mentor Mencius. AND, if he LOST the case then, by contract, he would not owe Mencius anything yet, since he was to be paid only upon a court victory.

 ....I s'pose in the end, all one can say is that it is true that this sentence is false. ;-)

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