• tim wood
    4.1k
    IRAC, offered here as an alternative form for posts, is an acronym for a template for informally communicating arguments, usually legal arguments, intra-office between lawyers. No doubt some here know all about it. Its virtues are authority, efficiency, brevity, and forcefulness.

    It stands for Issue, Rule, Argument, Conclusion. Understood and adhered to, it can be an aid to creating posts of lapidary clarity.

    Issue. Usually a relatively short single sentence of the form, "Whether {clause.1} or {clause.2}. That's it. Whether this or that. No these, those, or thems; no ifs, ands, maybes, or buts. If the Issue will not reduce to a single simple "whether," then it may have to be broken down into a series of whethers (or you lack sufficient understanding of your own issue!). The underlying idea being that the thing should resolvable, which usually requires some degree of simplicity. Creating good "whethers" can be an art form. A good "whether" lays out boundaries but leaves consideration of what's within to the following Rule, Argument, Conclusion. .

    Rule. In a law office, a recitation of citations of applicable law as found. The content of this section ought to be authoritative, as distinguished from conclusive. Little or no discussion in this section, that comes in the

    Argument. I.e., make your case! Usually by reference to the rules above listed, with reasons for following/departing from them.

    Conclusion. The whether resolved, the argument re-presented in summary form.

    Not the only tool in the box, but a very good one, properly used.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    So long as the only alternative isn't A Hard Place this sounds fine to me.
  • christian2017
    1.2k


    this is so cool. No sarcasm intended.
  • Benkei
    2.7k
    I like the idea but then I'm biased as a practising lawyer. I'm not convinced though that we can find "Rules" for philosophical discussions. Plus, while precedent is recognised in courts, it is in reality a fallacy to base an argument on authority.

    In fact, I was recently involved in a court case where the court asked for a calculation of damages due to a house not being the size as advertised (in the Netherlands, if the seller says a house is 120 m2 and it's only 100 m2 then as a buyer you do not need to ascertain the size). The damages would be the difference between what was paid and the market value at the time. So that requires a valuation but that valuation has an error margin.

    The court therefore also asked for a bandwidth. The valuation agent then based his bandwidth on standard valuation research which, according to the valuation expert, concluded that a bandwidth of 10% up or down was reasonable. As was reaffirmed in previous court cases again and again. I picked up the original research this was based on and the rule was actually as follows:

    "Of well performed valuations we can state with 95,5% certainty that they will lie within a range of plus or minus 10% of the median of those valuations. For areas with relatively high-turnover this bandwidth will be smaller. Since the median cannot be calculated based on a single valuation outcome, the best we can say about a single well performed valuation outcome is that it will lie somewhere in that bandwidth."

    So in fact, court cases have been accepting single valuation outcomes with bandwidth that are incorrectly position around that single valuation outcome whereas we have no clue where that valuation outcome lies within the bandwidth because we don't know where the median is. That's been going on for about 15 years now. And I can tell you that despite this being rather obvious, it's really bloody hard to get a history of 15 years of court cases overturned.
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