LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

The two components of the interpretive attitude are

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The two components of the interpretive attitude are inde - pendent of one another; we can take up the first component of the attitude toward some institution without also taking up the second. We do that in the case of games and contests. We appeal to the point of these practices in arguing about how their rules should be changed, but not (except in very limited cases) ' about what their rules now are; that is fixed
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48 INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS by history and convention. Interpretation therefore plays only an external role in games and contests. It is crucial to my story about courtesy, however, that the citizens of cour - tesy adopt the second component of the attitude as well as the first;, for them interpretation decides not only why cour - tesy exists but also what, properly understood, it now re - quires. Value and content have become entangled. How Courtesy Changes Suppose that before the interpretive attitude takes hold in both its components, everyone assumes that the point of courtesy lies in the opportunity it provides to show respect to social superiors. No question arises whether the traditional forms of respect are really those the practice requires. These just are the forms of deference, and the available options are conformity or rebellion. When the full interpretive attitude develops, however, this assumed point acquires critical power, and people begin to demand, under the title of cour - tesy, forms of deference previously unknown or to spurn or refuse forms previously honored, with no sense of rebellion, claiming that true respect is better served by what they do than by what others did. Interpretation folds back into the practice, altering its shape, and the new shape encourages further reinterpretation, so the practice changes dramati - cally, though each step in the progress is interpretive of what the last achieved. People s views about the proper grounds of respect, for ex - ample, may change from rank to age or gender or some other property. The main beneficiaries of respect would then be social superiors in one period, older people in another, women in a third, and so forth. Or opinions may change about the nature or quality of respect, from a view that ex - ternal show constitutes respect to the opposite view, that re - spect is a matter of feelings only. Or opinions may change along a different dimension, about whether respect has any value when it is directed to groups or for natural properties
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INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 49 rather than to individuals for individual achievement. If re - spect of the former sort no longer seems important, or even seems wrong, then a different interpretation of the practice will become necessary. People will come to see the point of courtesy as almost the converse of its original point, in the value of impersonal forms of social relation that, because of . their impersonality, neither require nor deny any greater sig- X ^ nificance. Courtesy will then occupy a different and^imin- ished place in social life, and the end of the story is in sight: the interpretive attitude will languish, and the
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