‘Beware of Strangers Bearing Gifts’

Joshua Knob and Scott J Shapiro, Proximate Cause Explained: An Essay in Experimental Jurisprudence, 88 University of Chicago Law Review (forthcoming, 2021) available at SSRN. A familiar rhetorical trope in modern advocacy is: ‘Imagine if visitors from outer space were observing x; how would they describe it?’ The payoff of this exercise is to get the audience to see that the view proposed by the speaker, while superficially unfamiliar, is actually more perceptive than the conventional understanding of the practice at issue. The subtext is that only with the benefit of insights gleaned from a great distance (or an unusual perspective) can those immersed in a practice truly understand it. I could not help but think of this trope while reading Knobe and Shapiro’s fascinating – if at times frustrating – paper on proximate cause …” (more)

[Anthony Sebok, JOTWELL, 14 January]

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