A Logical Argument for Accountability in States of Emergency
One of the questions raised in Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception concerns whether or not morality disappears whenever the writ of habeus corpus is suspended. In an environment stripped of prescriptive “laws,” then, can one say that, in some cases, edicts exist without morality, specific acts of law are eminent void of moral components, and that, to make the broadest deduction yet, that all laws do not have a moral basis? The answer is no, as laws existing after their suspension constitutes a logical contradiction. How then, as Agamben points out in his State of Exception, can Cicero be banished from Rome for his brutal “suppression of the Catalan rebellion,” or how can Nazi criminals be responsible for their atrocities in the Holocaust if no juristic ordinances existed when these dual crimes were committed? The latter instance holds a key, as the Nazi offenders were tried for “crimes against humanity,” or, more precisely, ethical misdeeds in a time where nothing can be considered either as legal or illegal. In other words, if people are to be prosecuted for indiscretions during a period where actions are neither allowed nor prohibited by statutes, then there must be a basis for doing so. In the case of “crimes against humanity,” the charges are not contingent on legalistic codes, but approbation for what is inhumane, which is, fundamentally, a moral issue. On these grounds, ethics must persist in a vacuum for several reasons. First and foremost, in states of emergency, every legal code implies morality, and, consequently, the breach of the latter effectuates in breaking the former. Secondly, statues point to what is ethical, and unethical conduct constitutes the breaking of statutes. Finally, in some circumstances, edicts are a sufficient condition for moral behavior and, therefore, any type of unscrupulous conduct violates edicts. While the specifics of a constitution might become null and void during a state of emergency, everybody has the right not to be murdered, raped, tortured, or have property stolen from them, and the only permissible situations to kill, assail, hold one in captivity, or seize one’s possessions is when that person constitutes, as psychologists and psychiatrists have reasoned previously, “a threat to himself or herself or others.” As Christian apologists have noted, the principles highlighted above, which are promoted by the Bible, present the foundation upon which laws concerning the limitations and parameters of human actions are built. One question remains, though, and it involves whether or not, given just a legalistic vacuum, one can logically prove that immorality implies lawlessness. I will argue that it, in a state of exception, unethical behavior is a sufficient condition for lawbreaking.
Let us examine the idea that laws suggest ethical behavior, and misconduct undermines the very edicts on which they are based. One can promote the concept that some laws exist, but, as noted earlier, no juristic regulations contain enforceable power during a state of emergency. One can posit likewise about the variation of laws: that combinations of non-juristic demands might produce ordinances. Nevertheless, in a legal vacuum which suspends legality, no such combinations can exist. We must now confront the possible inquiry of whether or not legalism must exist independent of morality. This analysis holds the former and the latter are not mutually exclusive, since morals can always be added as an alternative choice to an environment where laws are temporarily not enforceable due to a state of emergency being created. The former scenario implies the following condition: if laws exist, then ethics must also, and, when transposed, this suggests that violating ethics entails dishonoring the law. One can then universalize the variation formula above as a rule. Hence, we have learned that the aforementioned formulation holds for variability and for a universal principle in a state of exceptions.
It has been established theoretically that, within the universal framework of a state of exceptions, no edicts can exist, for, if they did, the environment would not truly reflect a state of emergency. As such, one can forward the conception that one law might exist in a suspended constitution, undetected by those who called a state of exceptions. One must realize, again, that legal vacuums constitute the absence of laws, and, therefore, no one law can be eminent. The contrary is true: in such a state, the absence of every specific edict becomes a logical necessity. One can also postulate that, when the constitution is suspended, a specific juristic act might hold in the absence of any given moral act. This, though, is wishful thinking, and a method of evading the tough inquiry of how responsibility exists in legal vacuums. The answer is that one can offer the alternative of a moral instance in a specific occasion where a given edict is not present. Simply put, if a specific law is eminent, then it points to a moral consequence. These “laws” are not constitutional acts, but, rather, God-determined forms of legislature that regulate a person’s conduct, and are the necessary conditions for constitutions. “Law,” in this instance, contains two senses: constitutional law and moral law; this, as Gottlob Frege notes in his “On Sense and Meaning,” is permissible, as one object can generate multiple senses concerning its nature. This suggests that undermining a given moral will produce the same effect on an edict. One can thus conclude that every specific law predicts a specific moral, and the violation of a given ethic, likewise, implies breaking a particular juristic ordinance.
If one follows the same steps as the second argument, and existentially generalizes the final step, one can posit that, in some instances, laws forecast moral expectations, and, in the event that such ethical demands are not met, one can argue that such laws are breached. The objection which might be raised is that, under all circumstances, laws would have to exist, whereas morality would not; yet, legal vacuums are states of an absence of constitutional legality, and do not remove ethics from the aforementioned environment, which functions independently of them. On this basis, the final argument seems to define itself within the confines of what is considered to be a state of emergency, whereas the latter does not. Therefore, we should accept the first, and reject the second.
In the argument above, it has been shown that legal vacuums do not create moral nihilism. As pointed out earlier, Agamben, in his State of Exception
, notes that both Cicero and members of the Nazi party were held accountable for crimes committed in a legal vacuum. In addition to history illustrating that morality dictates the legal code in states of emergency, I have posited that such vantage points are defensible, irrespective of whether or not the concepts in question are quantified as variable, universal, constant, or existential. In essence, right and wrong still retain their moral and legal status, even when such behaviors are performed in a constitutional vacuum.
Premise one: (X)(-Lx) (1, given) / (X)[(Lx>Mx)^(-Mx>-Lx) (conclusion, given)
Premise two: -Lx (1, universal instantiation to a variable)
Premise three: -Lx vMx (2, addition)
Premise four: Lx>Mx (3, implication)
Premise five: -Mx>-Lx (4, transposition)
Premise six: (Lx>Mx)^(-Mx>-Lx) (4,5 conjunction)
Premise seven: (X)[(Lx>Mx)^(-Mx>-Lx)] (6, universal generalization)
Objections to Argument One:
Negation to premise one: (3X)(Lx)
Negation to premise two: (Lx)
Negation to premises three through six: (Lx^-Mx)
Negation to premise seven: (3x)(Lx^-Mx)
Premise one: (X)(-Lx) (1, given) / [(La>Ma)^(-Ma>-La) (conclusion, given)
Premise two: -La (1, universal instantiation of a constant)
Premise three: -La v Ma (2, addition)
Premise four: La>Ma (3, implication)
Premise five: -Ma>-La (4, transposition)
Premise six: [(La>Ma)^(-Ma>-La)] (4, 5 conjunction)
Objections to Argument Two:
Negation to premise one: (3x)(Lx)
Negation to premise two: La
Negation to premises three through six: La^-Ma
Argument Three (One More Premise Added to Argument Two):
Premise seven: (3x)[(Lx>Mx)^(-Mx>-Lx)] (6, existential generalization) / (3x)[(Lx>Mx)^(-Mx>-Lx)] (conclusion, existential generalization)
Objections to Argument Three (which Include Objections to Argument Two):
Negation of premise seven: (X)(Lx^-Mx)