FW from Erwin Chemerinsky re: Tribe
bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 28 21:26:03 PDT 2004
This does seem much ado about very little.
Part of the problem may have to do with language, or at least
typographical conventions. When using quotation marks, we have come to
expect literal exactness. If I want to quote an idea from an authority,
such as Holmes's "The life of the law is not logic but experience," I
have to look up the exact quote, which reads, "The life of the law has
not been logic: it has been experience." (p.1, The Common Law, any
edition, since it's page one.). Otherwise I've misquoted by leaving out
the has beens. I like my way better. I've improved on Holmes. In my
mind, at least.
I think we need an easy, typographically acceptable way of making clear
that we're borrowing the ideas of others using some designation apart
from exact quotation marks. Roscoe Pound said something to the effect
that *one must not expect justice, but the best that the local
jurisdiction offers.* If I want to refer to that idea, and life is too
short for me to search out the exact Pound quote, what do I do? I can
say thanks to Pound who said something close to this. I can invent the
use of asterisks, as I just did. Just not quote marks. Or I can say,
"Someone once said,..." and forget about Pound.
"'Tis a puzzlement."
Someone once said that.
On Broadway, if I'm not mistaken.
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
>>From: Erwin Chemerinsky [mailto:chemerinsky at law.duke.edu]
>>Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 7:29 PM
>>To: Volokh, Eugene
>>Subject: A favor
>>. . .
>>For many reasons, I virtually never have participated in a
>>listserv discussion. But I thought it important to weigh in
>>on the accusations against Larry Tribe. Professor Tribe, in
>>an interview with the Harvard Crimson, already has
>>acknowledged that he should have given attribution when he
>>used some of the words, particularly a 19 word passage, from
>>Abraham's book. Of course, this is correct. My concern --
>>which motivates my writing -- is about accusations of
>>academic dishontesty. Plagiarism is one of the most serious
>>charges that can be made against an academic. The problem,
>>as this instance shows, is that it can cover a huge range of
>>conduct, from the truly egregious to the relatively
>>innocuous. Tribe made a mistake, but in context it was not a
>>very serious one and certainly not one that warranted the
>>tone of the Weekly Standard article. He was writing about
>>historical facts; he did not take any ideas from Abraham's
>>book. The book was for a popular press audience and lacked
>>footnotes or endnotes. The book expressly acknowledges
>>Abraham's book. Tribe should have used quotation marks and
>>footnotes when he was using Abraham's words. But this is
>>not serious misconduct and it shows we all need to be careful
>>and nuanced when we use words like plagiarism.
>>Duke Law School
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