Tuesday, February 7, 2012


So I'm taking a philosophy class this semester, and while I'm not all that thrilled about it, there was an interesting discussion brought up by my instructor. Here's the question:
There was an ancient Greek law teacher named Protagoras. Protagoras took a poor but talented student and agreed to teach him without a fee on condition that after the student completed his studies and won his first law case, he would pay Protagoras a certain sum. The student agreed to do this. Well, the student completed his studies but did not take any law cases. Some time elapsed and Protagoras sued the student for the sum. Here are the arguments they gave in court.

Student / If I win the case, then by definition, I don't have to pay. If I lose the case, then I will not yet have won my first case, and I have not contracted to pay Protagoras until after I have won my first case. So whether I win the case or lose the case, I don't have to pay.

Protagoras / If he loses the case, then by definition he has to pay me ( after all, this is what the case is about). If he wins the case, then he will have won his first case, hence he has to pay me. In either case, he has to pay me.

Who would you judge in favor of and why?

I originally went with the teacher, just because the student sounds like an obnoxious prick unwilling to take responsibility. But from a legal standpoint, it seems like it would be the teacher's fault for failing to designate a timeframe. Anyway, what do you guys think?


  1. Student. Though, I would try and kicked from jury duty.

    Like you said, no time limit was given. So...teacher is fucked.

  2. Student. Because technically, he didn't take the case. He is the defendant and is being pressed charges against. And there was also the whole time frame thing. But yes, that guy is a total prick.

  3. Yep go with student because it's the teachers fault for being so vague, he should have been way more specific. Same as if someone bets you a sum that you won't jump out of a plane without a parachute. They are obviously thinking of the plane being high up in the air, but they didn't say that. So you can jump out with the plane on the ground and win. All about wording.

  4. I would side with Protagoras, because the student is an ingrateful douchebag.... But in reality, I don't think Protagoras has a legal leg to stand on. He simply misjudged the "talented" student's character. Protagoras made an investment of his time in the student that didn't pan out, just as if you invested in a company or business, that turns out to be a bad risk, you would get burned.