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The U.S. Constitution Versus the Dictates of Conscience

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by joe1776, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    When the Constitution was written, its authors lived in a society that condoned the existence of legal slavery. An amendment was required to bring the law morally up to date.

    Conscience is moral intuition, we feel wrongness emerge from the unconscious. Slavery was abolished when enough free, fair-minded humans imagined themselves owned as property. Empathy enabled them to feel the wrongness.

    Equality, with all humans being equal in value, has been a theme for the dictates of conscience:

    • equality for slaves
    • equality for women
    • equality for homosexuals
    • equality for the insane
    • equality for the handicapped
    • equality for all races
    • equality for the children of the poor
    • equality for all groups, religious or non-religious

    Most of the moral advances in our nation required constitutional amendments, a time-consuming process. So, I'm wondering why we feel obliged to be guided by a document written by men who lived in a time of immature 18th Century morality in the first place. The authors of the Constitution were good men, but they weren't gods and they didn't own crystal balls.

    “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell” -- Carl Sandburg

    I think Constitutional laws are only useful when the facts are against you as they are with the NRA, for example.

    If we dumped the Constitution, and our decisions on policy were made on the current dictates of conscience, we could make swifter progress toward a better society.

    If you disagree, and I expect most people will, please support your opinion with reasons.
     
  2. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I disagree. We'd have Emperor Trump if it were not for the Constitution.

    We are and need to remain a nation of laws until the day comes when human evolution reaches the point that those in power utterly wise.

    Until that day, conscience does need to play in to get laws changed when they become retrogressive.
     
  3. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    You are like a cracked record with this stuff. I'm not going to argue the same points with you that I have already argued before. Your idea won't work and won't ever be tried.

    I'll just leave you with this: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
     
  4. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Our evolution doesn't determine what kind of government we choose. That's a product of reasoning minds.

    Donald Trump is a product of our governing system. You are arguing that it could be worse, but not allowing that a better system could replace it.

    I think that, given contemporary knowledge on decision-making systems, it would be difficult to do worse than the one we have.
     
  5. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    Did the US Constitution condone slavery?
     
  6. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Is the fact that you offered that thought in Latin supposed to give it greater meaning than if offered in English?
     
  7. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    It graded slaves as three-fifths human in the census and spoke of "freemen."
     
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  8. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Indeed! That is, in fact, why good constitutions are so hard to change -- but yet able to be changed. It forces all who would make changes to consider those changes with great care.
     
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  9. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    I was surprised to discover when I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that AA has no hierarchy. There are no 'leaders' dictating policy. And no rules controlling how the meetings are conducted. Every single AA meeting everywhere in the world is completely autonomous, and is controlled by the people in the room at the time of the meeting. And any time any decision needs to be made about how the meeting is being conducted, it is made by "group conscience", via a show of hands. And I was stunned by how well this worked! By how organized and orderly the meetings were, no matter which ones I went to or where they were located or what kinds of people were in the rooms. That a bunch of drunks and drug addicts could gather in a room and conduct themselves so civilly was astonishing to me! And I often wondered why the rest of our society has so much difficulty agreeing on ANYTHING.

    But I did eventually realize the difference. And that was that every person in every one of those AA meetings was there for the same reason, and with the same agenda. And that was to help each other get and stay sober. Everything else in their lives was secondary to that goal, and they all knew it. Knowing it was why they were all there. And they were completely in earnest about it. So they didn't get distracted by egos, and ideologies, and personalities. And if any such distractions were to manifest, they would quickly be called out and the focus corrected. Because that stuff just wasn't why anyone was there.

    I think nations need to set forth, in writing, for themselves, what their primary purpose is for their being established. Because unlike in AA, that singular primary purpose is not going to be so obvious to everyone involved. Nor so easily agreed upon. So that once that purpose is clearly and logically laid out, the millions of other small procedural decision can be based on it without having to be argued and debated, constantly.

    This is what we've lost in the United States ... that sense of ultimate purpose. The goal of providing equal freedom, justice, and opportunity for all citizens. And of establishing and protecting every human being's right to life, liberty, and happiness. The problem is that our founders did not spell these goals out clearly enough. They left too much room for loopholes and endless debate.
     
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  10. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Yes, this is the reason for setting down rules of any kind in writing. There needs to be some principles that a group of people can agree to adhere to, in order for them to act in a cooperative way without disputing all the time.

    Our friend has this fantasy of judges being chosen and then just making decisions with no pre-warning, to the subjects of the decisions, as to what the decisions are likely to be or how they will be made. That's unworkable in a society of disparate individuals, because they are not accountable.
     
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  11. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    It was a compromise at the time from what I understand.
    Which was amended later. So we can make changes to it. So your complaint is the difficulty of making changes?

    The problem is that "conscience" is not universal.
    Our lawmakers are representative. I'm not sure it'd be a good idea to rely solely on the conscience of a few representatives.
    The Constitution provides a limit on what politicians can do. It may be slow to change but I don't like the idea of politicians without limits.
     
  12. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your well-stated analysis of what is needed. However, it doesn't sound like we'd agree on a solution.

    You concluded that: "The problem is that our founders did not spell these goals out clearly enough. They left too much room for loopholes and endless debate."

    It's not possible to write a law that makes it impossible for lawyers to find loopholes. That's what their clients pay them to do when they find the law inconvenient. Moreover, there are unique situations that arise that legislators couldn't foresee, and stupidly, unless specifically prohibited, the act will be allowed even if it's clearly opposed to the law's intent.

    Another problem is that judges will try to interpret laws based on the original intent of its authors at the time it is written. This makes sense logically but the older the law, the more morally out-of-date it's likely to be. For example, the Founders were guided by now out-of-date 18th Century morality.
     
  13. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    That's not even close to the decision-making process I envision. But it might be one which would be easier for you to debate.
     
  14. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    No, the difficulty in making changes is just one of many factors.

    Yes it is. Although it didn't seem to be back in 1800 when half the world condoned legal slavery and the other half did not.

    Neither do I.

    Neither do I. If I wrote something that made you think I did, please quote me.
     
    #14 joe1776, Dec 14, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2020
  15. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Your statement has the ring of truth but the fact is that these changes considered with great care are dirt simple examples of injustice. It shouldn't take centuries for those discriminated against to achieve equality.
     
  16. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    This would be my disagreement then. I don't believe conscience is universal. There may be some commonalities but I think that comes from a commonality of culture and upbringing.
     
  17. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    The FF made the Constitution but recognized that it would not be perfect, thus there are provisions for amendments.
     
  18. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Well, we'd get into a lengthy off-topic discussion to debate this point. However, as it applies to my OP, do you disagree that something is moving us to treat all humans as equal in worth?
     
  19. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    That's true. If you are suggesting that as a counter to my argument in the OP, could you elaborate, please. I don't see why your point matters.
     
  20. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    Disagree no one is a God or owns crystal balls, decisions should be made after long thought and debated processes. Please support with reason why current dictates of conscience is better than thoughtful debate.
     
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