Philosophical Defense to the Slippery Slope Argument
CK MacLeod replied, “Only if you don’t believe in causality at all.”
That’s a good point. “Causation” is all about understanding. Or in legal parlance where we park the blame (or credit) of responsibility.
The 14th Amendment not only preceded the SCOTUS’ constitutional recognition of same sex marriage, but was in fact the text used for the decision. Therefore, we might reason, it’s the “cause” of the decision.
If I may continue with my legal hat on, as it relates to the theory of causation in negligence: Causation breaks down into two sub-elements: 1. “Cause in fact,” which means links in causal chain, where there are potentially countless numbers of such. And 2. “Proximate cause,” in other words, the “real” cause where we park the blame.
You prove #1 first, #2 second. Indeed you have to be #1 before you can be #2.
The 14th Amendment is, as it were, a “cause in fact” of same sex marriage. But is it a “proximate cause”? That’s the million dollar question.
If one doesn’t believe in the slippery slope or wishes to argue against it, it seems to me, post hoc ergo propter hoc is a good defense. “Not only did the 14th Amendment and the ‘Loving’ decision PRECEDE it, but they served the legal bases for the Obergefell decision; therefore they are responsible for it.”
One rejecting such logic could reply with “post hoc ergo propter hoc.”
Likewise, if in the future SCOTUS uses Obergefell as precedent for a decision recognizing a constitutional right to polygamy, the same response could be used.
On rhetorical grounds, think of the phrase “it has nothing to do with …” as a way of attempting to distinguish or deny the causality or connection. If someone wants to disconnect interracial marriage to same sex marriage, the reply is “interracial marriage has nothing to do with same sex marriage.” Likewise, “same sex marriage has nothing to do with polygamy.”
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