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The Dershowitz Defense

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Image Credit During the trial of Donald Trump Attorney Alan Dershowitz advanced a controversial argument in defense of the president. Dershowitz has attempted to explain that his argument was not as radical as it seemed. While the senate’s decision is a forgone conclusion, this defense is philosophically interesting. When asked by Ted Cruz about whether it mattered if Trump had engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine to help his election efforts, Dershowitz contended that motive is what mattered. If an act by a president was in the public interest, then that act would not be impeachable. Engaging in a chain of reasoning, Dershowitz asserted that it was rational for the president (and any official) to regard their own political interest in being re-elected as being in service of the public good.  He noted that, “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” He did acknowledge some limits to this; a quid pro quo involving an illegal activity or aimed at financial gain for the official could be impeachable offenses. In the face of backlash, Dershowitz has attempted to clarify his original argument. While Dershowitz claims that the media and his critics made a straw man of his argument, one can review the video of what he said and see that his complete argument in full context is as the media and critics claim. As such, let us consider his original argument and his later clarification. Dershowitz’s logic is as follows: A president cannot be impeached for acting in the public interest.Motive determines whether the president acted in the public interest.All officials believe their re-election is in the public interest. Trump was motivated by his desire to be re-elected.Trump’s motivation was to act in the public interest.Trump cannot be. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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