The way we learn about law department operations: a succession of explanations conjectured, tested, and improved

“Scientific explanations are theories, assertions about what is out there and how it behaves.” Thus does David Deutsch, in The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World (Viking 2011) at 3, introduce the key concept of his magisterial book. Explanations come about because people conjecture them regarding objective reality. “Discovering a new explanation is inherently an act of creativity” (at 7). Then, they and others criticize and test the creative conjecture. All valid knowledge begins, expands, and improves by those steps.

Knowledge acquisition done properly Deutsch terms fallibilism, which recognizes “no authoritative sources of knowledge, nor any reliable means of justifying ideas as being true or probable”. Fallibilists believe all knowledge might be shown to be wrong, fallacious. Progress in thinking exposes misconceptions and improves them, in turn to have those sounder explanations challenged and improved on. For example, best practices for law departments ought to be viewed as the best current thinking, but not to be taken on faith or forever or because of the endorsement of a guru general counsel.

Everything we observe about a law department rests on an implicit or explicit set of beliefs about what matters – theories (See my post of Feb. 21, 2007: the theory-ladeness of all observations.). Illustratively, to pay attention to the law school where a potential hire graduated rests on a set of theories. The categories for posts on this blog evidence theories of what counts in law department operations.

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