We’d like the systems we depend on to do what we expect and need them to do.

A useful component of that sort of system is that there’s a bedrock set of expectations, principles and boundaries that exist before and after we encounter it. The drawbridge operates because of the rules of physics, not because an invisible elf decided to open it in this moment.

There are two kinds of situations, then. One in which we’re dealing with a predictable system with expectations about how and why things happen, and the other in which explanations might be suggested after the fact, but they’re justifications, not explanations or principles. In the irrational system, explanations are often made up after the fact and changed as soon as they’re scrutinized.

Both kinds of systems make up our world, but the first kind, the civilized, effective, mature kind, is the type we can build our world around.

We can state the rules and play by them. We can outline a theory and prove it.

Principles truly matter in the moments when it’s really difficult to stick with them.