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“A way of thinking that regards individual differences as inessential departures from a general type is therefore not well suited for dealing with the natural world. A general type is fixed, determinate, and uniform. The world Darwin described is characterized by chance, change, and difference: all the attributes general types are designed to leave out. In emphasizing the particularity of individual organisms, Darwin did not conclude that species do not exist, he only concluded that species are what they appear to be: ideas which are provisionally useful for naming groups of interacting individuals. ‘I look at the term species,’ he wrote, ‘as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other. It does not essentially differ from the term ‘variety’, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily and for mere convenience’ sake. Difference goes all the way down.

One our attention is redirected to the individual, we need another way of making generalizations. We are no longer interested in the conformity of an individual to an ideal type. We are now interested in the relation of an individual to the other individuals with which it interacts. To generalize about groups of interacting individuals, we need to drop the language of types and essences, which is prescriptive, telling us what all finches should be, and adopt the language of statistics and probability, which is predictive, telling us what the average finch, under specified conditions, is likely to do. Relations will be more important than categories. Functions, which are variable, will be more important than purposes which are fixed in advance. Transitions will be more important than boundaries. Sequences will be more important than hierarchies.”

— Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club Ch. 2.6: Brazil, transcribed from audio book

David A. Strauss in The Living Constitution on common law (tradition/precedent) as a concrete challenge to originalist interpreters of the constitution:

“The common law is a system built not on an authoritative, foundational, quasi-sacred text like the Constitution. Rather, the common law is built out of precedents and traditions that accumulate over time. Those precedents allow room for adaptation and change, but only within certain limits and only in ways that are rooted in the past. Our constitutional system has become a common law system, one in which precedent and past practices are, in their own way, as important as the written Constitution itself. A common law Constitution is a "living" Constitution, but it is also one that can protect fundamental principles against transient public opinion, and it is not one that judges (or anyone else) can simply manipulate to fit their own ideas.”

“according to the common law view, the authority of the law comes not from the fact that some entity has the right, democratic or otherwise, to rule. It comes instead from the law's evolutionary origins and its general acceptability to successive generations. For the same reason, according to the common law approach, you cannot determine the content of the law by examining a single authoritative text or the intentions of a single entity. The content of the law is determined by the evolutionary process that produced it. Present-day interpreters may contribute to the evolution-but only by continuing the evolution, not by ignoring what exists and starting anew.”

“For the most part, there are no clear, definitive rules in a common law system. The common law is not algorithmic. The better way to think about the common law is that it is governed by a set of attitudes: attitudes of humility and cautious empiricism. These attitudes, taken together, make up a kind of ideology of the common law.”

“The second attitude [at the basis of common law] is an inclination to ask 'what's worked,' instead of 'what makes sense in theory.' It is a distrust of abstractions when those abstractions call for casting aside arrangements that have been satisfactory in practice, even if the arrangements cannot be fully justified in abstract terms. If a practice or an institution has survived and seems to work well, that is a good reason to preserve it; that practice probably embodies a kind of rough common sense, based in experience, that cannot be captured in theoretical abstractions.”