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Sunday
Feb242013

what does reasonable mean?

Recently in the news there has been an extraordinary situation where a British jury asked the judge to explain to them the meaning of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. I think they knew what 'beyond' and 'doubt' meant so that leaves 'reasonable'. In every 'proper' job you are snowed with guidelines and definitions. The words 'use your judgement' or 'do what is reasonable' are rarely encountered. People don't trust other people 'below them' to use their judgement.

That slippery and attractive way of thinking - relativism- has penetrated into the roots of society. If all behaviour can be deemed 'reasonable' from some perspective or another, is it any surprise that the jury seek guidance on what kind of 'reasonableness' is intended. When cannibalism can be viewed as 'reasonable' within the tribal structure of New Guinea then the march of relatavism has started. The way out of the beguiling grip of relatavism is to stop worrying about yourself and your precious moral schemas and look outward at contexts, situations, what is really happening in the situation you are really concerned with. I suspect the problem with the jury was that they weren't able to 'get real' and look at this crime within its real life context. We all know what reasonable means when someone doesn't acknowledge us for holding the door open for them.

 

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