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Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I try to avoid boilerplate like "significant contribution to the field" or "as I have argued elsewhere." But on some level it is useful to be able to draw on phrases like this. If someone didn't know the boilerplate in the first place, sh/e would be at a significant disadvantage, not knowing how to say basic things that need to be said in the most easy and efficient way. You also need boilerplate argumentative moves, like distinguishing between the stronger and weaker versions of a claim. You can refute a lot of claims by showing that the strong version leads to unintended or absurd consequences, but that the weaker version is insipid and doesn't tell you anything useful.

So when I teach grad students, I try to get them to do the basic things they need to be able to do. For my own work, I try to get to a super-refined version of scholarship.

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