In my previous post, I listed the works of several authors who have cited my 2013 law review article “Gödel’s Loophole“, and I also said that I would read their works and reply to them soon, so let’s begin with two scholarly papers, one by George Mader (see here), the other by Yaniv Roznai (here). I lump Mader and Roznai together here because both address the same theoretical constitutional puzzle: are some provisions of the Constitution “unamendable”, and if so, which ones? In the course of attempting to solve this puzzle, both Mader and Roznai refer in passing to Kurt Gödel’s discovery of a logical contradiction in the U.S. Constitution, the subject of my 2013 paper. Having thus set the stage, I have two replies to the works of Mader and Roznai:
- First and foremost, Mader and Roznai are barking up the wrong tree, so to speak. Why? Because from a purely logical perspective, there is no such thing as an “unamendable” or sacrosanct constitutional provision. For example, even if our Constitution were to explicitly say “X provision is so important that it is ‘unamendable'”, such as the rule in Article I, section 3, clause 1 that “The Senate shall be composed of two senators from each state” (specifically, Article V purports makes this provision unamendable), even that provision could be amended following the two-step procedure that I outlined in my “Gödel’s Loophole” paper. Look it up!
- But my main critique of Mader and Roznai is that they wait until the end of their respective law review articles to mention the story of Gödel’s discovery of a logical contradiction in the Constitution, and even then, they merely mention Gödel’s remarkable discovery in passing. Sure, Gödel’s fears may have been exaggerated, but we are talking about — to borrow Rudy Rucker’s memorable formulation — “Kurt Fucking Gödel” here, the greatest European logician since Aristotle! Had Mader or Roznai given Gödel their full attention, instead of just mentioning him in passing, or had they tried to reconstruct the content of Gödel’s discovery for themselves, they would have seen that the problem of self-reference — Gödel’s area of expertise — bedevils all rule-systems and thus all written constitutions.