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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 the court". Teacher agreed and proceeded with the law course. When the course was finished and teacher started pestering the student to pay up the fee, the student reminded him of the deal and pushed 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 one of the greatest paradoxes ever recorded.

Who is right and who is the winner?

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  • $\begingroup$ What claim is the teacher making in court? That the contract should be voided? $\endgroup$ – user24939 Jun 9 '16 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ Shows the student is a newbie. If he had omitted the "yet" at the end of the statement, he would not have to pay when his second (or nth) case produced a win. Because he will then never have won his first case. :-D $\endgroup$ – KlaymenDK Jun 9 '16 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ The student shouldn't represent himself in court for the case. For this, his attorney could be argued to have "won the case", and he still not have won a case. $\endgroup$ – Keeta Jun 9 '16 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ I fail to see the pardox. The courts ruling has nothing to do with the situation after the ruling. While the court is ruling, he has not won a case. AFTER the courts ruling, he has won a case. Therefor the ruling does not apply anymore because the situation has changed after the ruling. Even if he does loses the first case. He could go for it again considering the situation has changed and win. $\endgroup$ – Jeroen Jun 9 '16 at 14:16

13 Answers 13

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There is no paradox. The teacher will get paid, one way or another.

The key to understanding the situation is realizing there are multiple slightly different scenarios that are all being described as being identical:

  1. The student is obligated to pay the teacher.
  2. The student will be obligated to pay the teacher.
  3. The conditions of the contract have been met.

Note that the court is ruling only on point 1 - whether or not the student obligated to pay the teacher.

Let's look at the statements made by both teacher and student:

Teacher - 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

This is correct. If the judge rules in the teacher's favor, then the student is obligated to pay the teacher. The judge's ruling will supersede the contract, so even though point #3 will be false, point #1 will still be true.

Teacher - If I lose the case, the student will still pay me because he would have won his first case

If the judge rules in the student's favor, then the judge is saying that because #3 is false, #1 is also false. However, this does not prevent #2 from being true - the ruling does not invalidate the contract, and having won a case #3 becomes true and the student now becomes obligated to pay the teacher. So the teacher's statement is true.

Student - 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.

This statement is not quite correct. It would be correct if he had instead said "If I win the case, as per the court of law, I was not obligated to pay." In the student's statement, the implication is that it will continue to be the case that the student does not need to pay, but the judge ruling in the student's favor does not guarantee that to be the case. In other words, #1 can be false while #2 is true.

Student - If I lose the case, I don't have to pay him because I haven't won my first case yet

This is false. If the judge rules that the student needs to pay, the student needs to pay regardless of what the contract says.

Unless the judge for some reason rules that the contract is not valid (in which case the judge will specify whether or not the student needs to pay), the student will win the case - the terms of the contract have not yet been met. Thus, the judge is stating that #1 is false - the student was not obligated to pay the teacher. However, after the conclusion of the court case, #3 has become true - the conditions of the contract have now been met. Thus, #2 is also true - now that the student has won a case, he is obligated to pay the teacher.

So the teacher's statements are true, the student's two statements are somewhat wrong and entirely wrong respectively, the student wins the case (despite his statements being wrong), and then the student needs to pay the teacher.

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The court must decide this.
It all depends on the legal basis of the contract.

Case 1.

There IS NO contract saying that the student will pay his fees after winning the first case...
The teacher will win the case and the student will have to pay.

Case 2.

There IS contract saying that the student will pay his fees only after winning the first case...
The student will win the case. (He can also request compensations for being wrongfully accused but this is an other topic).
After this, the teacher can open an other case, requesting the student to pay based on the same contract and he would win it.

Bonus:

Based on this logic, the smartest thing to do for the student is to not represent himself in the case.

[EDIT]
To answer the question about who's right and wrong...

they are both wrong.
Their logic that turns everything in their favor is wrong because in one case they declare themselves the winner based on a premise, but in an other case they declare themselves the winner based on the opposite of that premise.

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    $\begingroup$ We also need to know why exactly the teacher sues the student $\endgroup$ – Fabich Jun 8 '16 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ Marius, I completely agree with your second case. I don't really see how this is the greatest paradox ever recorded. It's just based on timing. The judge only decided if the student has to pay at that moment (which she does not). After the case is closed however the teacher can collect his money from the student who has to pay the same day. Only the teacher will (usually) have had to pay the court cost because he lost ;) $\endgroup$ – Bas Jun 8 '16 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ Every paradox is the greatest paradox ever. Paradoxical, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – Marius Jun 8 '16 at 15:10
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This doesn't seem to be that difficult.

The teacher loses the case, and gets paid.

The fact is that the student has not yet won his first case. Therefore, he is within his rights to not have paid. Any reasonable court should find in the student's favor.

It's been said that the man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. This applies to the student. The student has foolishly agreed to represent himself; therefore, by winning his case, he invokes the terms of the agreement, and is then obligated to pay his teacher. Unfortunately, he has no client to bill for his services, and therefore no money with which he can pay the debt... which will undoubtedly lead to even more legal trouble!

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The student wins the case and then has to pay back the fee.

The claim being made is against a future call: "I will pay you one day"--well there's no actual way to prove that the student failed to make the payment on any given date before the student wins. Failure to pay only happens once he's won.

Therefore the teacher must lose the case, student wins and as a result has to pay the fee.

*This assumes 'normal' logic. In a potential real court of law the teacher's case would be thrown out as it has no standing--thus no case happens, and the student never actually 'wins' and thus doesn't have to pay.

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I'm not sure this is as much of a fallacy as anyone would like to think it is. It relies essentially on personality traits of these two parties and the hypothetical society in which they live.

Having said that, the teacher is clearly most correct.

Assuming the society in which they live is something like ours, as the teacher states, "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". Well, there you have it, the student will be legally bound to pay the teacher if the teacher wins. Simple enough.

Now the teacher's second premise, that if the student wins, they will still have to pay given their previous arrangement. This is where the personality traits come in, whether the student would keep their word in this case is generally unknown, though given the student's conjecture, it seems they would not keep their word.

Now for the student, who for all intents and purposes, seems like a bit of a dick. In his statement, he simultaneously appeals to keeping his previous committment, and not keeping it. He states that "If I win the case, as per the court of law, I don't have to pay anything to the teacher", while this is true, it relies on him being a liar, which is not particularly difficult to solve as a fallacy.

For his second premise, that if he loses, "I don't have to pay him because I haven't won my first case yet", he has now flipflopped to appealing to his original promise, as if there is intent to honour the original agreement.

Now as far as who wins, probably the teacher, as they are most correct and if the judge is a reasonable person, it should be clear that the student is being facetious at best.

Edit:

I should add that if the student's statement is known to the judge, there should be essentially no way for the student to win. If the student is admitting there was an arrangement but simply doesn't want to honour it, that generally doesn't bode well as a defense.

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Like @Marius has shown the real-life court usually has different ways to find subjective "winer", but i think the most interesting question, especially for our SE, which is not law-ralated, is "who is right?" objectively, i.e. "which of the two given and oposite statements of the student and the teacher is true?"

And the pure-logic-based answer to this question: "there is no answer, this is paradox". To see this more clearly let's reformulate the initial statements by building a chain of logically equivalent statements:

Initially:
1. "I will pay your fee the day I win my first case in the court".

Equivalent to:
2. "I will pay your fee the day I make first correct statement at the court". (and in our situation "My first statement at the court is that I must not pay you fee")

Equivalent to:
3. "I will pay your fee the day the statement that I must not pay you fee becomes correct". (and in our situation "must not pay" = "will not pay")

Equivalent to:
4. "I pay your fee when and only when I don't pay you fee". (if you reread the story at this point it will be quite clear that the student meant to say exactly this).

Equivalent to:
5. "A = true if and only if A = false", where A = "I pay your fee".

Now it is obvious that the initial statement is useless, it is not "true" and it is not "false", thereby any conclusions from it can't be "true" or "false", thereby you can't say that teachers argument is "true" and you can't say that it is "false", the same thing with student argument.

Concluding - according to strict logic, no one here is right.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with your 1st statement being equal to the 2nd. You will have only won the case after the judge has decided, not before the judge decides. It would be equivalent to: "I will pay your fee the day the judge decides in my favour for the first time". Therefore AFTER the judge decides in favour (which s/he must), the student has to pay. $\endgroup$ – Bas Jun 8 '16 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Bas, I'm trying to consider statements objectively, as been said. Judge doesn't matter when you consider statements objectively. This is by definition of the word "objective". $\endgroup$ – klm123 Jun 8 '16 at 16:03
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It's not that difficult, we should put it in chronological order.

The teacher will get paid, But later after the student won the case. Because there is no way the teacher could win the case from the beginning, it's like you sue people who don't pay you on the third month while the contract/debt itself due in a year. So the teacher will lose the case. The student win , so he won't have to pay the teacher for the sue itself (non payment sue case). The case end here. Next the teacher could easily ask for the money according to the deal/contract and the student has to pay.

Additional

The teacher is a law teacher. He already knew he won't win a case like this. His real purpose only to make the student win his/her first case.

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who is right? both are
who is the winner? depends on the judge

both terms are right, so either student as well as teacher are right (you clearly pointed that out in your question)

but when the judge comes to tell what is right or wrong, the deal between them both is no longer valid!

a) the judge says: the student has to pay

  • the student has to pay and the deal between has been proven illegal

b) the judge says: the student has not to pay

  • the student has not to pay and has never ever to pay, because their deal is has been proven illegal

in any case the previous deal (between student and teacher) is no longer valid.

the paradoxon exists only as long as no judge has made a decision (sorry my english is very poor, special on legal terms, maybe someone can edit it)

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The person who is correct is:

The teacher.

The person who wins is:

Depending on your perspective, either the student or no-one.

The correct person:

The teacher states that if he loses the case, the student will have won which then means that he is obliged to fulfill his terms of the contract and pay the teacher. This is true, as the judge will correctly state that the student has not yet won a case, therefore he is not obliged to pay, thus winning the case. However, he will then have the remainder of the day to pay up, as the contract states that he will pay on the day of his first case win, not at the exact time. So if the judgement passes at 2pm, he has 10 hours to pay the fee. If he does not, the teacher can then sue for breach of contract instead of non-payment of fees.

The winner:

The student cannot pay the fees he is then obliged to pay. He was unable to pay the fees when he began his tuition, and he has not yet won a case, therefore he has not earned any money since graduating. He is therefore, despite now being legally obligated to, unable to pay the fee. This is reinforced by the fact he could not afford to hire his own lawyer. If he could have hired his own lawyer, he would now not be breaching his contract, and obligated to pay his fee, so being as brilliant as he is he would know this is his best option, yet is unable to make this choice.

To summarize:

Considering that the teacher loses (i.e. not getting paid despite being correct) would mean that by default the student wins, however the student will be forced to default on his payment, giving him terrible credit, therefore meaning that he also loses, thus no-one wins.

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First of all, the teacher cannot sue the student because the student hasn't yet won his first case. Here, he has actually sued the student. For what? Not paying him? The student is simply following their contract. This verdict HAS TO BE in the student's favour. The end! Epilogue - the teacher can now, ask for his payment and IF the student doesn’t pay, he can sue the student and he will WIN THE CASE this time.

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If the student had said "I will only pay your fee the day I win my first case in the court" there may be a different outcome.

As it stands with the current wording the teacher will win the case, the student will have to pay, and then the student will pay again when they finally win their first case.

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The student decides not to enter the profession anymore..so the pact between them ends there itself. Secondly if the student is not into law anymore he cannot fight his own case.his attorney would have to..and would not have to pay the teacher as He didn't win the case but His attorney did.

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Paradox solved! Court cannot assume jurisdiction of the matter as there is no breach of contact( or promise); though the student will be obligated to pay the teacher, that is upon happening of a certain event i.e. when the student wins the case.

Thus case dismissed, further when the student wins a case, the student would be obligate to pay and upon non payment at that time there lies a right to legal remedy.

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protected by Deusovi Feb 3 '17 at 15:00

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