Protagoras was a lawyer in ancient Greece. As an act of kindness he took on a poor but promising young man as a pupil. He agreed to teach him law but make no charge until the student had won his first case, when the student would repay the tuition fees. The young man gladly agreed to this plan. The student completed his training, and then decided that he did not want to practice law. Instead, he retired to the countryside to keep goats. Protagoras was disgusted at this waste of talent and training and dismayed that he would not be reimbursed for the tuition. He decided to sue his pupil in order to recover his fees. If the two men met in court to argue the case, who do you think would have won?

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This is a paradox with no clear-cut answer. Both parties have a good case. It would be interesting to see it argued out in court. Whoever lost could claim to have won-the student in losing would still not have won a case, Protagoras in losing would ensure a first victory for his pupil. Some believe that the most likely outcome of such a situation, if it had come to trial, would have been victory for the student. He was after all under no obligation to practice law and up until that point he had not breached ever, he could sue a second time on grounds that the student had now won a case and was in breach of contract. Protagoras would therefore win the second case and recover his fees. Overall, Protagoras would have won. The student would be smart to choose not to represent himself but to select a good lawyer who could win the first case for him. In that case, since a pupil would still not have won a case, he would have won the contest.
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