37 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2012 Last revised: 18 Dec 2013
Date Written: August 1, 2012
The mathematician and philosopher Kurt Gödel reportedly discovered a deep logical contradiction in the US Constitution. What was it? In this paper, the author revisits the story of Gödel’s discovery and identifies one particular “design defect” in the Constitution that qualifies as a “Gödelian” design defect. In summary, Gödel’s loophole is that the amendment procedures set forth in Article V self-apply to the constitutional statements in Article V themselves, including the entrenchment clauses in Article V. Furthermore, not only may Article V itself be amended, but it may also be amended in a downward direction (i.e., through an “anti-entrenchment” amendment making it easier to amend the Constitution). Lastly, the Gödelian problem of self-amendment or anti-entrenchment is unsolvable. In addition, the author identifies some “non-Gödelian” flaws or “design defects” in the Constitution and explains why most of these miscellaneous design defects are non-Gödelian or non-logical flaws.
Keywords: Gödel, Gödelian design defects, constitutional statements, self-amendment, entrenchment, anti-entrenchment clauses
JEL Classification: H77, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation