Truth Out is carrying Robert Reich’s piece Justice Roberts’ Switch. There may be some interesting points made in the article. However, just because I like Robert Reich and agree with him on most points doesn’t mean I can’t recognize when he uses a silly argument.
Roberts nonetheless upheld the law because, he reasoned, the penalty to be collected by the government for non-compliance with the law is the equivalent of a tax – and the federal government has the power to tax. By this bizarre logic, the federal government can pass all sorts of unconstitutional laws – requiring people to sell themselves into slavery, for example – as long as the penalty for failing to do so is considered to be a tax.
Robert Reich is guilty of the same syllogistic logic the court usually uses. If a bill to sell yourself into slavery were enforced by a tax, it would be similar in this aspect to the current decision about the mandate which is enforced by a tax. Just because it is similar in this one aspect of judging its constitutionality, logic doesn’t permit you to draw the conclusion that it must be similar in every other aspect of judging its constitutionality. So you couldn’t rule the slavery bill unconstitutional on the tax argument, but you could rule it was unconstitutional for many other reasons.
Just like you can find some aspects in which a corporation is like a person, that does not mean that you can conclude that a corporation is like a person in every other imaginable aspect. Each aspect has to be judged on its own as to whether or not a corporation is like a person. The path of logic is that you judge an aspect on its merits and then you put it into the like or the not like category. You don’t just start a like category, use logic to find something to put in that category, and then based on this one item automatically put everything you can imagine into the same category without examining each item on its own merits.
If someone told you that corporations were formed by the sexual mating of a male corporation and a female corporation, would you accept this despite your own reasoning just because you do believe that corporations are like people in some ways?
Maybe Plato was assuming that people would get his irony when he described the absurd results of applying Socrates’ syllogisms as described in The Republic. From my experience in college, even professors think that Plato was describing a good logical argument used by Socrates.
In fact “reductio ad absurdum” is a Latin term meaning to reduce a logical argument to an absurd result in order to prove the logic is faulty. Which doesn’t mean that “reductio ad absurdum” proofs cannot be absurd themselves.