Knowledge of facts – what is – does not tell you what to change – what ought to be

Susan Neiman’s Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grownup Idealists (Harcourt 2008) emphasizes that you cannot derive how things should be from the knowledge of how they are. That is, unless you hold very conservative views such as that our current situation is the peak.

Hence, benchmark data, which describes how things are, do not guide us to how law departments ought to be managed. All the posts on this blog, most of which describe something existing, do not extrapolate to how best to manage. The gap is similar to the shortcoming of inductive reasoning: all the instances in the world cannot prove that the next time the same thing will happen. Another way to put this is the difference between description and explanation. To describe something in a law department is not necessarily to explain it, which is the first step in appreciating what might be done to change it.

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