Have you ever been caught in the net of the Principle of the Dangerous Precedent? I bet you have.
After you read the definition below of the Principle of the Dangerous Precedent, you’ll laugh as much as I did the first time I read it. When a quote so clearly describes reality, it’s almost as good to look at as an excellently drawn cartoon and the laugh from it is just as enjoyable.
Laugh away; then, let’s go do something for the first time. Why not try?
Writing in 1908, F. M. Cornford said,
The Principle of the Dangerous Precedent is that you should not now do an admittedly right action for fear you, or your equally timid successors, should not have the courage to do right in some future case, which, ex hypothesi, is essentially different, but superficially resembles the present one. Every public action which is not customary, either is wrong, or, if it is right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time.