A Person Walks into a Courtroom and says…

Below is a hilarious ‘toon (to the philosophically minded) on jury selection by Existential Comics. It reminds me of many years ago when I was summoned for jury selection and the Humean maneuver I pulled (Hat tip to David Hume). The case was a lawsuit that a couple was bringing against a car salesman claiming he caused them innumerable damages for the “lemon” car that was sold to them. Apparently, this car broke down several times and resulted in the couple missing work and a great deal of “related” stress. Each lawyer presented questions to prospective jurors, most of which were innocuous. But this question was the clincher: “Do you have any reservations in awarding financial remuneration for psychological damages suffered?” No one in the jury box declined and every prospective juror answered quickly with essentially, “Nope; no problem whatsoever” …. except for me. When it was my turn to answer the question I responded, “I’m not sure.” The lawyer asked, “What do you mean?” So, I leveled a battery of follow up questions, such as:

“How do we know the psychological damages suffered were caused by the failed car and not by food poising from a bad pizza?”

“Moreover, will we have sufficient insight into this couple’s marriage to know that it was stable and they did not have any other marital problems unrelated to transportation? How far back into this couple’s marriage must we go to rule out this possibility?”

“Philosophically, exactly what is the cause-effect relationship between money and psychology? How do we establish there is a relationship between something material like money and something immaterial like stress?”

“In fact, do cause-effect relationships even exist in the tangible, touchable world out there or are they only in our minds in here [points to head]? Because if cause-effect relationships are only in our minds, then what material evidence could there be for us to render a judgement?”

The judge responded: “You’re dismissed.”

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