The Paradox of Self-Amendment:
A Study of Law, Logic, Omnipotence, and Change
Peter Suber, Philosophy Department, Earlham College

This book was originally published by Peter Lang Publishing, 1990.
It is now out of print.
Copyright 1990, Peter Suber.

Table of Contents

  1. Paradoxes that perplex, and paradoxes that prove
  2. "Solving" paradoxes in logic and law
  3. Self-amendment
  4. Logical v. legal approaches to self-amendment

Section 2. Preliminaries: Amendment Clauses (38.1k)

  1. Amendment and revolution, lawful and unlawful change of law
  2. Amendment and democracy

Section 3. The Dilemma (37.4k)

  1. Self-application v. infinite regress
  2. Primary and secondary rules
  3. Is law finite?
  4. The paradox of omnipotence, the barber, and the liar

Section 4. The Denial of Self-Application (18.1k)

  1. Four ways to avoid self-amendment
  2. Weaknesses of these four methods

Section 5. Self-Application (30.8k)

  1. Ross's paradox of self-amendment
  2. Some distinctions
  3. Lawfulness of self-amendment
  4. Self-reference

Section 6. The Inference and Acceptance Models of Legal Change (37.5k)

  1. Weaknesses of the inference model cured by the acceptance model
  2. Ross's solution: the invisible, immutable amendment clause
  3. Solutions from the model of direct acceptance

Section 7. Hart's Theory of Acceptance (40.5k)

  1. Salient points in Hart's text
  2. Hartian acceptance self-applied

Section 8. Omnipotence and Immutability (125.2k)

  1. Omnipotence and immutability are inseparable concepts
  2. Entrenchment, self-entrenchment, disentrenchment
  3. Supposed limitations on the U.S. federal amending power

Section 9. Entrenchment, Self-Entrenchment, and Disentrenchment of the Amendment Clause Itself (108.1k)

  1. Types and distinctions
  2. Reflexivity tangles in New Mexico
  3. Self-disentrenchment of the AC
  4. Entrenchment and time
  5. Self-repeal

Section 10. Attempts to Dissolve the Paradox: Time (55.4k)

  1. Ross's answer to the time-based objection
  2. "Valid until amended", temporal indexing, universal self-entrenchment
  3. The procedural model
  4. Other views
  5. One more try at satisfying the inference model

Section 11. Attempts to Dissolve the Paradox: Self-Embracing Omnipotence and Specific Authorization (22.5k)

  1. The authorization fallacy
  2. Against self-embracing omnipotence
Part Two. Variations on the Theme

Section 12. Introduction to Part Two (62.7k)

  1. The exclusivity of the federal AC
  2. Indirect self-amendment
  3. Self-amendment without inconsistency
  4. Self-amendment of a non-supreme rule of change

Section 13. The See-Saw Method (17.2k)

Section 14. Amendment by Sunset Clause (33.3k)

  1. Sunset clauses in American constitutions
  2. Self-repealing sunset clauses
  3. Effective-date clauses

Section 15. Amendment by Interpretation (43.2k)

  1. Judicial amendments
  2. Judicial self-amendment

Section 16. Amendment by Implication (48.8k)

  1. The lex posterior principle v. self-entrenchment
  2. Was the adoption of the Tenth Amendment a case of self-amendment?
  3. Was the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment a case of self-amendment?
  4. The lex posterior principle self-applied

Section 17. Amendment by Treaty (31.0k)

  1. The treaty power v. the amending power
  2. The Bricker amendment

Section 18. Amendment by "Inalienable Right to Alter or Abolish Government" (28.1k)

  1. Amending v. altering or abolishing
  2. The right to alter or abolish government self-applied

Section 19. Amendment by Desuetude (25.6k)

Section 20. Other Selected Paradoxes and Reflexivities in Law (112.6k)

  1. Protagoras v. Euathlus
  2. State v. Jones
  3. Self-referring laws
  4. The liar
  5. Circular liens and liabilities
  6. The bootstrap doctrine
  7. Inferences drawn from the fact of the dispute
  8. Reflexivities of sovereignty
  9. Self-amendment
  10. Permissible disobedience
  11. Contract reflexivities
  12. "More of the same"
  13. Breaking vicious circles
  14. To know before we know
  15. Tax reflexivities
  16. Circular reasoning

Section 21. Conclusions and Explorations (155.9k)

  1. Summary
  2. Acceptance and consistency
  3. Some oddities and implications
  4. A word on the merits of the direct acceptance theory
  5. Self-application

Appendix 1. Attempts to Amend the Federal Amendment Clause (34.4k)

  1. Recent proposals
  2. An historical proposal passed by Congress
  3. Historical proposals not passed by Congress
  4. The Articles of Confederation
  5. Selected suggestions by writers

Appendix 2. Self-Amendment of State Amendment Clauses (55.5k)

  1. Summary
  2. Table of States

Appendix 3. Nomic: A Game of Self-Amendment (39.1k)

  1. Introduction
  2. How to play Nomic
  3. Initial set of rules

Bibliography (112.1k)


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Ribbon] Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374, U.S.A. Copyright 1990, 1998, Peter Suber.