Solving The Protagoras Paradox – You Be The Judge
Many years ago, a law teacher came across a student who was willing to learn but was unable to pay the fees. The student struck a deal saying, “I will pay your fee the day I win my first case in court.” The teacher agreed and proceeded with the law course.
When the course finished and the teacher started pestering the student to pay up the fees, the student reminded him of the deal and pushed for more days.
Fed up with this, the teacher decided to sue the student in the court of law and both of them decided to argue for themselves. The teacher put forward his argument saying, “If I win this case, as per the court of law, the student has to pay me as the case is about his non-payment of dues. And if I lose the case, the student will still pay me because he would have won his first case…So either way I will get the money”.
Equally brilliant, the student argued back saying, “If I win the case, as per the court of law, I don’t have to pay anything to the teacher as the case is about my non-payment of dues. And if I lose the case, I don’t have to pay him because I haven’t won my first case yet…So either way, I am not going to pay the teacher anything.”
This is known as Protagoras’s Paradox and is one of the oldest paradoxes in logic ever recorded. It is part of ancient Greek history, where the law teacher was Protagoras (c.485-415 BC) and the student was Euthalos. Who is right and who is the winner of this unsolved court case? What’s your take on this?
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