Alan Dershowitz on Being Wrong

When it comes to wrongness, Alan Dershowitz is a paradoxical figure.  As a high-profile criminal defense attorney and outspoken political pundit on a number of controversial issues (torture and the Middle East, to name two), he is widely regarded as an unyielding defender of inflammatory beliefs.  Yet he is also a connoisseur of error: he believes that all of common law emerged from mistakes and has written two books on the relationship between wrongness and rights.  In this Slate interview, Dershowitz and I talk about why lawyers can't admit their errors, what's motivating his political adversaries, and why he likes the word "evil."  Check it out here.

 

Okay, maybe you don’t have strong beliefs about the “right” way to load a dishwasher, or about your sweetheart’s propensity to do it “wrong.” In that case, either you are unusually saintly or (like me) you don’t own a dishwasher. But you almost certainly get involved in domestic disputes about who’s right and who’s wrong all the time; we all do. Although interpersonal arguments can have a number of causes – from serious and painful breaches in trust to the fact that we haven’t had our coffee yet – an impressive number of them amount to a tug-of-war over who possesses the truth. We fight over the right to be right.