I was asked the other day for permission to reprint a rather old article of mine on delay analysis, and I took the opportunity to update it, see Delay in Construction Projects: Where Science Meets the Law.
It also provided me with the opportunity to include a reference to Heisenberg. Before I studied law (as a postgraduate, the College of Law in the UK) I had obtained my degree in English and American literature, but originally, had gone to university with a view of taking my degree in theoretic physics. I have always thought that theoretic physics is a rather underestimated discipline for lawyers and among the concepts of quantum mechanics that has some application to law is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. In a nutshell, the true state of the law is like the speed or position of a subatomic particle, described best not by some crystal sharp analysis, but as a probability cloud, where it is impossible to say with certainty precisely what a court or arbitrator is going to say about a particular issue.
As a law student, I made a bit of money (not a lot of money) playing backgammon, where success depends upon similar principles. It is impossible to guarantee that any particular move will work out well, but all the time, it is necessary to calculate which moves have the best probability of success, given that there is no way of predicting precisely how the future dice are going to fall. A good player at backgammon will often lose a game, but will rarely lose the evening. And a bad player will usually walk away from the table thinking that he has experienced bad luck.
So it is with the law. The fact that there are uncertainties is not by any means undermine the need for rigourous analysis. In fact, the maths that goes into the calculation of an certainties is really rather more complex than crude Newtonian physics.