A powerful valid argument form is called “modus tollens” or “denying the consequent.” It is used by Jesus in the following passage:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” — (Matthew 7:15-20)
This is couched in metaphoric language and uses an analogy.
A true prophet is like a good fruit tree.
A good fruit tree produces good fruit. If it produces bad fruit, then it is not a good tree.
A true prophet will perform good actions. If his actions are bad, then he is not a true prophet (he is a false prophet).
We can formulate these arguments as having the form:
if p, then q; and not q, therefore: not p
Using this valid form of argument, I can then argue like this:
If a government is good, its actions will be good.
If the actions of the U.S. government are not good, then the U.S. government is not good.
If a country has a good way of electing government officials, then the government officials will be good.
If the U.S. government officials are not good, then the U.S. does not have a good way of electing government officials.
If the U.S. Constitution is good, then methods of electing federal politicians are good.
If these methods of electing federal politicians are bad, then the U.S. Constitution is bad.
The federal politicians who I want to focus on are: the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court.
Now my criticism of representative government consists of two claims.
- A single individual in a position of power is subject to corruption. Therefore, no position of power should be occupied by a single individual.
- No politician should be elected by a great multitude of people (mass democracy).
The office of the President suffers from both these defects.
Congressional elections suffer from mass democracy.
The institution of the Supreme Court has several defects. First, they are nominated by the President, which is an instance of possible corruption. Second, they are confirmed by the Senate (a body selected by mass democracy). Third, the power of the Supreme Court is too great, and not necessary. It has the power to overthrow Congressional laws.
The Swiss Constitution is much better. It does not have either a president or a prime minister, but a Federal Council of seven individuals. They are not elected by mass democracy, but are nominated by the four main political parties, and confirmed by their bi-cameral parliament.