Author Topic: The Original Intent Argument  (Read 8786 times)

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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The Original Intent Argument
« on: November 16, 2013, 05:05:40 PM »
...it's a blatant argument from authority.  The Constitution was not a final will and testament - the nation exists for current and future generations, not to honor the wishes of our framers.  They even recognized this themselves, hence why they included an amendment process.  I don't think any of them would appreciate our taking their word as though it were divinely mandated, rather than the often inconsistent opinions of intelligent but mortal men.  People bring it up all the time, and its validity still has not been refuted, that the original Constitution condoned the institution of slavery, and didn't even ensure universal suffrage.  Hardly a perfect document.  The idea that a two century old documents could still remotely function just on its original framing is patently absurd, and our authoritative treatment of the "founders' intentions" is based on various false assumptions:

1. That the founders were a homogenous entity, rather than bickering politicians who formed political factions and even challenged one another to duels.
2.  That the founders, for all their intelligence, were so brilliant that they had anticipated modern technological, scientific and cultural developments, and that their opinions remain more sound than our own today, backed by tools such as modern scientific studies and centuries of additional historical data.
3. That the founders really believed in what you thought they did, when they were largely actually intellectuals that were considered incredibly liberal for their time, loathed banks and wanted to separate church and state.
    Side note: It amuses me that Glenn Beck dresses up as and admires Thomas Paine...a militant anti-theist who labeled all organized religions institutions designed to enslave mankind.
4. That the founders don't already have a dubious track record, from slavery to civil rights to obvious loopholes in the Constitution they failed to address.  They were brilliant men for their time, but would themselves not want to be used as authoritative sources in a society that would be virtually unrecognizable to them.



And just to note, the founders were right on a lot of things.  But what they were correct on can be independently justified with logic and evidence, with no need to point out which founder said what beyond simple citation.

Offline kopema

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 09:41:37 PM »
...it's a blatant argument from authority.

That's not what that means.  And your diatribe just gets dumber from there.
‘‘It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.’’

- Justice Robert H. Jackson

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 07:48:57 AM »
That's not what that means. 

It most certainly is what it means.  If you agree with specific arguments from specific founding fathers at specific times in their lives, perhaps you could just defend the points on their actual merit without trying to name drop famous dead old men.  And even if you do not personally fall for this fallacy, your conservative politicians certainly do.  Again and again.  All the fucking time. 

Offline kopema

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 09:29:21 AM »
It most certainly is what it means.  If you agree with specific arguments from specific founding fathers at specific times in their lives, perhaps you could just defend the points on their actual merit without trying to name drop famous dead old men.  And even if you do not personally fall for this fallacy, your conservative politicians certainly do.  Again and again.  All the fucking time.

Read the Federalist Papers.  If you disagree with anything written there, it's not because THEY were logic-impaired Neanderthals.

Believe it or not, your fundamental argument  actually is valid within its own context.  If we assume that the term "argument from authority" means something like what you're fuzzily trying to imply that it does, then the people who say "the Constitution only made sense because it was written by people who were born before me" are indeed precisely as stupid as your claim that the Constitution is invalid because it was written by people who were born before you.

So... congratulations, I guess.  You successfully argued a straw man to a draw this time.
‘‘It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.’’

- Justice Robert H. Jackson

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 09:58:12 AM »
Read the Federalist Papers.  If you disagree with anything written there, it's not because THEY were logic-impaired Neanderthals.

There you go with it again; suggesting that the founding fathers were infallible entities whose word still stands without modification after centuries of the most significant societal advancements in human history.

Of course, if you were actually educated on the history of this era you'd realize that many prominent founders took issue with the federalist papers, among them Jefferson.

...and you'd also realize that many of the federalist papers blatantly repudiate plenty of current right-wing policies.  Indeed, their purpose was to support the ratification of a stronger central government!

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Believe it or not, your fundamental argument  actually is valid within its own context.  If we assume that the term "argument from authority" means something like what you're fuzzily trying to imply that it does, then the people who say "the Constitution only made sense because it was written by people who were born before me" are indeed precisely as stupid as your claim that the Constitution is invalid because it was written by people who were born before you.

Strawman - show me where I say the Constitution is invalid because it was written by people who were born before me.  You clearly think there is some dichotomous "either the founders were 100% right or 100% wrong" choice here.

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So... congratulations, I guess.  You successfully argued a straw man to a draw this time.

No, you've just eliminated any seriousness I could have taken you with by proposing that I claimed the Constitution was invalid because it was written a long time ago, when I made no such statement even in passing.

Offline kopema

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 02:31:45 PM »
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Read the Federalist Papers.  If you disagree with anything written there, it's not because THEY were logic-impaired Neanderthals.

There you go with it again; suggesting that the founding fathers were infallible entities whose word still stands without modification after centuries of the most significant societal advancements in human history.

Didn't make it past the FIRST WORD in that sentence did you?
‘‘It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.’’

- Justice Robert H. Jackson

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 02:34:05 PM »
There you go with it again; suggesting that the founding fathers were infallible entities whose word still stands without modification after centuries of the most significant societal advancements in human history.


Didn't make it past the FIRST WORD in that sentence did you?

Yes.  It was "if you disagree with them you are logic impaired".  Do you think Jefferson, who disagreed with plenty of the federalist papers, was logic impaired?  Oh, wait, did I spoil for you that the founders bickered and fought even moreso than modern politicians?

Offline Solar

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 03:23:10 PM »
Yes.  It was "if you disagree with them you are logic impaired".  Do you think Jefferson, who disagreed with plenty of the federalist papers, was logic impaired?  Oh, wait, did I spoil for you that the founders bickered and fought even moreso than modern politicians?
You don't even know why the Federalist papers were drawn up, do you? :lol:
#WWG1WGA

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2013, 03:31:38 PM »
You don't even know why the Federalist papers were drawn up, do you? :lol:

Sure I do.  They were drawn up in support of the ratification of the Constitution, and, ironically enough (as I've pointed out earlier) actually to strengthen the central government.

Offline kopema

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 03:44:43 PM »
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Read the Federalist Papers.  If you disagree with anything written there, it's not because THEY were logic-impaired Neanderthals.
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There you go with it again; suggesting that the founding fathers were infallible entities whose word still stands without modification after centuries of the most significant societal advancements in human history.
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Didn't make it past the FIRST WORD in that sentence did you?
Yes.  It was "if you disagree with them you are logic impaired".

So, among a great many other things, you don't know how to count.  At all.  Or, evidently, even grasp the fundamental concept thereof.

People give liberal Internet trolls way too much credit.  They keep accusing you guys of having "poor reading comprehension."  But the sad fact is, that's the only kind of comprehension you DO have.
‘‘It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.’’

- Justice Robert H. Jackson

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 03:51:10 PM »
So, among a great many other things, you don't know how to count.  At all.  Or, evidently, even grasp the fundamental concept thereof.

 :lol:

You asked me if I had read past the first word.  I cited a phrase that is clearly past the first word.  Are you blind, retarded or just a conservative?  Or are you actually trying to base your argument on my using the word "it"?

And you still haven't countered the point that by your criteria Thomas Jefferson was a logic impaired neanderthal.

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People give liberal Internet trolls way too much credit.  They keep accusing you guys of having "poor reading comprehension."  But the sad fact is, that's the only kind of comprehension you DO have.

Statistically speaking liberals are more likely to have higher educations, particularly in math and science, than conservatives.  But then again, why bother to actually do the research when you can vaguely accuse me of not being able to count...lol the irony here.

Offline kopema

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2013, 06:10:26 PM »
You asked me if I had read past the first word.

No, I didn't.

I'll try typing more slowly this time on the off chance that it might somehow help you:  You clearly understand how to read; and absolutely nothing else.
‘‘It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.’’

- Justice Robert H. Jackson

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 10:14:39 PM »
It's obvious you don't understand my argument at all.  I'll illustrate this with an analogy.

Take an equilateral triangle of sides length 10 centered around the origin and rotate it around the z axis.  How many radians would you need to rotate it by to end up with a volume equivalent to that of a triangular prism one half the volume of a radius sphere?

Let's see if you can figure out what I'm teaching you here.

Offline Mountainshield

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2013, 11:02:30 AM »
Principles are timess but the application of these principles change. The Constitution as it was framed, flawed or not, still gives gives the best principles for a civil and free society to exist, the application of these principles should change to meet the needs of the contemporary citizens and the constitution allows this.

This does not mean the constitution ever needs to be changed, and if it needs to be changed like it did with the 13th amendment it was done in line with the principles of the constutition and the intent of the founders in securing liberty for all. The principles of the constitution remains the same after the 13th amendement but the application changed to meet the demand at the time.

The proposed changes or wanton destruction of the constitution these socialist seek are the opposite to the principles of the constitution.

Offline Montesquieu

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Re: The Original Intent Argument
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2013, 07:39:42 PM »
I'm trying to glean a point from the OP, or were there several?

Without honoring an original intent, then the words of the Constitution really mean nothing but a judge's own bias. Granted, that bias can also involve an interpretation of what the founders meant.

It should not be ignored that we adopted a common law judiciary from England. Much of our law is not codified because of English equitable sensibilities, and instead is dictated to us from judges. That means the interpretation of the Constitution does actually change. It's what common law countries such as the United States do. In non-common law countries, judges have very limited ability to rule laws unconstitutional, because the civil code is taken literally.

Even so, judges in common or civil law countries do look back at the debates between lawmakers to get a better idea of what the law means, whether it is a constitutional test or not. Ultimately, it is this standard that should be honored and it keeps the least bias out of our case law.

Now as for the rest of the OP, we know that the founders were not perfect, and no human is. The form of government they gave us is one that can be changed, because they anticipated change. They may have even anticipated a day when slavery was no longer accepted or legal. Their moral flaws, which at the time were just starting to be deemed so, do not damn the basic structure of our government.

Regarding some of the exact wording, it is actually true that some clauses are elastic and some are strict. The elastic clauses in present circumstances are difficult to apply to the minds of 18th century politicians. However, it should not be ignored that an interpretation that trends too liberal will create a Constitution with practically no authority, i.e. an "anything goes" interpretation makes the Constitution irrelevant really.

 

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