Corporations Are People and Should Be Granted the Rights of People
Debate Rounds (4)
The idea for this debate formed from the multiple Supreme Court of the United States rulings in regard to this issue, including the two about allowing corporations to donate money to political campaigns, and the recent ruling about corporations providing conception. The first two were primarily about whether or not corporations had free speech, and the most recent one was about if they had freedom of religion.
The majority of this debate will be interpreting laws, and other such legal documents and definitions.. The Supreme Court did its own interpretation and found its own definitions and reasoning for its decisions. Interpretations are subjective and are to be left to the people debating the topics at hand. For this reason, the Supreme Court's rulings cannot be used as proof or evidence. Their decisions and reasoning may, however, be used to provide support for arguments that are made.
The burden of proof will fall upon whoever takes the pro side of this argument. They are making the affirmative claim, and therefore must prove their statement.
Given that the burden of proof falls upon the pro side, the rounds will be setup as such:
Con: This introduction
Pro: Acceptance AND argument as to why corporations are to be considered people
Pro: Rebuttal, further reasoning for the prior point, and why corporations should be given the rights that people have
Pro: Please refrain from saying anything in this round. With this current setup, we will both have had an equal amount of rounds to debate.
If you have any comments or questions about this debate, please leave them in the comments section. Thank you in advance for accepting my debate, and have a great day.
Seido (Con) I wish you a speedy recovery from your oral surgery.
Con mentioned that “the majority of this debate will be interpreting laws...” The laws I will be focusing on starts in one of our founding documents, and on the eve of the Fourth of July, it is most fitting to begin with the US Declaration of Independence. In that document Thomas Jefferson made reference to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.” Jefferson made claim that all “men” (aka humans) are “endowed ... with Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
According to Jefferson, Unalienable Rights are part of the Laws of Nature, not man-made. Recently, Takac presented scientific empirical evidence to verify Jefferson's claim:
Unalienable Rights are an outgrowth of the physical Constructal Law:
Since Unalienable Rights are part of the physical Laws of Nature applies to all living-systems (Takac). Living-systems range from a single living cell to social systems. That is, once alive (“Life”), has the freedom (“Liberty”) in the pursuit of positive-feedback (survival, chemical/electrical, “Happiness” for us humans, etc).
One social system, is in a form of a corporation, where its charter gives it the Right to corporate Life. The free market provides the corporation with Liberty, as it pursues Happiness through such objectives as profits, growth, etc.
A corporation, like a human, is a living entity. A corporation maintains a set of humans. No humans, no corporations.
The US Constitution's objective is to embrace and protect the individual's Unalienable Rights from the crimes of others and from the crimes of government, no more, no less.
Since a corporation is made up of humans, therefore, embracing and protecting Unalienable Rights naturally extends to the corporation. Within this context, the physical Laws of Nature trumps man-made laws.
Corporations have the same Unalienable Rights as any living-system “Granted” by the Laws of Nature.
In his opening argument, my opponent made an avid comparison between that of a living organism and that of a corporation. In his reasoning, he made a vital connection between the two, but failed to address the main issue at hand: what the Bill of Rights and Constitution say about these rights and how they can be applied to corporations.
To quote Thomas Jefferson, "We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness"
The key component of what Mr. Jefferson had said was "men".
The definition of the word "men", according to www.dictionary.com, is as follows:
"a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex".
According to this definition, "men", are Homo sapiens, otherwise known as humans.
The definition of a corporation, according to www.dictionary.com, is as follows:
"an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members"
According to this definition, "corporations" are groups of individuals that are brought together by law, not relying on those individuals for its existence, and not possessing the powers of its members.
By these definition, Thomas Jefferson was explaining the rights of life, liberty, and happiness that humans have. This cannot be extended to other living organisms. This means that animals, aliens, and if we are to consider them to be living organisms, corporations, cannot be given these rights. Said rights may be granted by Takac, but he was not involved in the creation, writing, or publishing of any of the founding documents of the United States of America. His views do not represent that of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Outside of referencing Takac, my opponent failed to explain how corporations can be considered human. They have entirely different definitions.
An important example of the differences in the rights granted to different organisms can be found with the idea of "animal rights". Despite being living organisms, as my opponent claims corporations are, they do not have the same rights as humans. We are allowed to kill them, use them in religious ceremonies, and do other activities to and with them that would be considered a violation of either the law or the Constitution if done to humans. They had to be given an entirely separate set of rights by lawmakers to ensure that they are treated decently. As was explained above, corporations are not humans, and like animals, have an entirely different set of rights.
The beliefs that Jefferson outlined within America's Declaration of Independence, as talked about above, can easily be extended to the Bill of Rights and the whole of the American Constitution. Throughout their whole, they specifically use the word "people". Such examples include, "We the people, of the United States...", "..or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.", and "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects...".
According to www.dictionary.com, the definition of the word "people" is as follows:
"human beings, as distinguished from animals or other beings"
This definition clearly states that "people" are multiple human beings. They are to be separate from that of other beings, and are brought together in no other way than existing.
Given this definition, we can clearly see that the Constitution of the United States of America was talking about human beings and no other form of living beings. As was stated before, my opponent has thus far failed to explain how a corporation can be considered a "human", thus meaning that these rights, and the constitution as a whole, cannot apply to a corporation.
An argument that my opponent is surely considering is that a corporation is a collection of human beings, and that people are a collection of human beings as well. This would mean that the words "people" and "corporation" are synonymous, meaning that the constitution must apply to corporations as well. While it may appear this way at first, the faults in this argument are to be found within the details of their definitions. "People" are a group of humans. There is no further distinction within this definition. A "corporation", on the other hand has a great deal of specifications. It is not merely a group of humans, but an association of humans that have been brought together by law. This distinction is important, as it reveals that without the law bringing them together, they are not a collection of humans. An even greater distinction can be found later in the definition of a corporation. It is independent from the existence of its members, and does not rely on the powers of its members. This means that the corporation is separate from the individuals that compose it, both in its existence and in its abilities. An example of this would be how a corporation can fire its employees. When the employee has been fired, they are no longer part of the corporation. Their existence inside and outside of the corporation does not determine the existence of the corporation itself. Above all though, the powers of the people in the corporation do not become the powers of the corporation itself. The people in a corporation and the corporation itself are distinct entities with their own powers. By this, we must acknowledge that the rights granted by the Constitution of the United States unto the people of the United States do not become the rights of the corporations that these people work for. Their rights are separate, and cannot be extended to one another.
Hopefully I have managed to debunk the ideas that corporations can be considered to be humans, that the rights talked about in the Constitution apply to them, and that the rights of those that work in corporations can be extended to corporations themselves.
Thank you for wishing me a speedy recovery. I look forward to seeing the rest of your arguments.
Con came up with the following Jefferson's quote:
"We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness"
Where did you find that quote? It is not in the Declaration of Independence, please provide a reference to said quote.
Our Unalienable Rights come from the Laws of Nature not from man. The US Constitution gives us no rights at all. The “Bill of Rights” are simply telling the government what rights the government has in protecting the Unalienable Rights of the individual. Another way to look at the Bill of Rights are actually 10 commandments from the people to the government. Starting with the First Amendment we have the phrase “Congress shall make no law...” In the Second, we have the phrase “... shall not be infringed.” The 10 Amendments which make up the Bill of Rights are simply telling the government, like the Ten Commandments loaded with similar phrases as “thou shall not(s)…”
Con must realize man-made terms and definitions evolve in time. The Laws of Nature do not. As time marches forward new terms and definitions or new knowledge from the sciences will fine-tune the language, as the language evolves. The research from Takac and Bejan is new, adding depth to Jefferson's discovery of Unalienable Rights, and Pro is using this new knowledge, from the Laws of Nature, as the foundation to the burden of proof.
Simply put, all life and social systems once they come into existence (“Life”), they have the freedom (“Liberty”) in the pursuit of survival (positive-feedback); otherwise, there is no life.
Since we have life, packs, tribes, groups, governments, corporations, any living-system, they all have Unalienable Rights, “Granted” by the Laws of Nature, by the fact of their existence.
Corporations are just like any social-group with man-made laws wrapped around to establish a corporate veil, tax structure, etc.
Corporations are a group of humans, and by their existence, like humans, are “Granted” Unalienable Rights by the Laws of Nature. The US Constitution protects the Unalienable Rights of humans, effectively protecting groups of humans; hence, the corporations.
The final version goes as follows, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Both quotes specify that all men are created equal. While I used the incorrect quote, all of the points brought up in my opening argument still stand as both versions use the same specification of "men".
For a basic source of proof, you can see the quote here: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Before I go on, I wish to remind my opponent that this debate primarily revolves around the rights described in the Bill of Rights and the whole of the Constitution. This was explained in my description of the debate. The rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are not legally binding structures within US law, and cannot be truly considered as part of this debate. The reason why I talked about the Declaration of Independence was to rebut the claims of my opponent and to further detail how the words "men" and "people" were specified within America's founding documents. Nonetheless, the rights described by the Declaration of Independence cannot be applied, even in an ideological sense, to corporations for the reasons described above.
As for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself, they both provide legal rights. When a case is taken before the Supreme Court of the United States, they look at laws that have been passed, and the Constitution. This is because the rights, such as freedom of speech, right to bear arms, and freedom of and from religion are all given to us in a legal structure within the Constitution. They are what shape American law, how our society functions, and what our government may and may not do. The Declaration of Independence was more of an outline of what ideals America would follow when it became its own nation rather than a legally binding document. This is why the Constitution is amended when new rights need to be added or removed, such as the amendment to end slavery, or the amendment that gave women the right to vote.
As for definition, they do change over time. The word "gay", for example, has changed from a word meaning happy, to a word meaning homosexual. The definitions of words will always change. Despite this, we are only able to use the definitions of words as they are now. We cannot legally use the meaning of a word that it will have in the future now, as we don't know what definition it will have in the future. Unless we are to officially change the meaning of words, or pass further amendments to alter the current wording of the Constitution, we must continue to use the current definitions.
Another point, groups aren't given the same rights as people through the US Constitution. A Basketball team is not given freedom of speech or freedom of religion, as they are not humans. The people that make up the basketball team are given those rights though, as they are humans. Given the definitions that we currently use for human, men, people, and corporation, we cannot expand the rights of humans to that of a corporation, to animals, or to any other living being.
Yet another important distinction that I wish to make is that a corporation is quite different from any living organism. Most living organisms are composed of cells that are not sentient. They cannot make conscious decisions and cannot think on an intelligent level. They cannot suffer, they cannot experience joy. They are incapable of having a cultural background, a religion, or an ideological belief. A corporation, on the other hand, is composed of humans, creatures that are sentient and are capable of conscious decisions, and rational and intelligent thought. These humans have religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds, ideological beliefs. They can feel pain, experience joy, and can think on a level that no other known of create is capable of doing. Cells are not equivalent, by definition nor by capability, to humans. They should not be treated as equals, nor should the bodies or corporations that they compose.
By this line of thought, a corporation cannot be considered to be the same as living beings. The corporation itself is not alive, nor is it composed of the same fundamental structures as living creatures are composed of. A corporation is not alive, and only exists because humans created it. When the humans that created the corporation disband, the corporation no longer exists. It was never born, nor did it ever die. It never lived. It was never a living being. It was a legal fiction created by humans to serve humans. The corporation itself, as it is not a living being, and even less so a human, cannot, and should not, be given the same rights as the humans that created it.
Thank you Con for supplying the source of your quote on Unalienable Rights. There is a big difference between a “rough draught” that is discarded compared to the final form in the Declaration of Independence. Actually the quote you used is from Julian Boyd in his attempt to “create a transcript of Jefferson’s draft.”
If you look at Jefferson's draft, one could disagree with Boyd.
You should be careful when quoting statements, and be sure you get the name right.
As for the Bill of Rights according to ushistory.org, that Bill only “put limits on the national government's right,” as I pointed out in Round 2.
“They [Bill of Rights] put limits on the national government's right to control specific civil liberties and rights,...”
“Together with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the Bill of Rights helps to define the American political system and the government's relationship to its citizens.”
Con stated the following: “The rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are not legally binding structures within US law, and cannot be truly considered as part of this debate.”
I will take issue with Con. In Amendment 5 (part of the Bill of Rights) of the US Constitution we have the following quote:
“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”
The restriction on government (“nor be deprived”) over the emotion of human “Happiness” would be difficult to manage or define in a legal framework. Referring back to the physical Laws of Nature, once alive (“Life”), has the freedom (“Liberty”) in the pursuit of survival; otherwise, there is no life. All life requires property (territorial space, food, etc) to survive. Survival is a prerequisite for human “Happiness.” Therefore, “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” is a restriction on government not to “deprive” our Unalienable Rights.
According to the nineteenth century French philosopher Frederic Bastiat stated the following:
“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused man to make laws in the first place.”
I would highly recommend Con to read Bastiat's book “The Law” (the above ebook link). Even Bastiat agrees with Takac that “life, liberty, and property” (aka Unalienable Rights) “existed beforehand,” that is, before the concept of government or man-made laws, and therefore, part of physical nature.
In Con's closing paragraph he stated the following, “... a corporation cannot be considered to be the same as living beings. The corporation itself is not alive, nor is it composed of the same fundamental structures as living creatures are composed of.”
Living creatures are hierarchies of living-systems. The blood-cells circulating gives life to organs, organs give life to humans, and humans give life to corporations. Without those blood-cells, there will be no corporations, therefore, corporations are living-systems.
We could look at it from the context of evolution. First came living cells, them came organs, then came humans, then came corporations.
Corporations are groups of people and are granted Unalienable Rights by the Laws of Nature. The US Constitution states “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property,” (aka Unalienable Rights). The corporation's “life” depends on people, operating in free-markets (“liberty”) and requires “property” to survive.
Therefore, corporations are people and granted the same rights of people.
I once again must state that the Declaration of Independence holds no legal jurisdiction over American law. In no court of law could it be used, and in no case has it ever been used over the Constitution to object or to support American law. The goals of the Declaration of Independence were to separate America from England, to outline what Britain had done wrong, and to detail what ideals America's constitution would use. Many of the ideals that Jefferson addressed in the Declaration of Independence are written into law within the Constitution, and only through the Constitution can those ideals be used in law.
Before I proceed, I must quote the US Constitution. The fifth amendment of America's constitution goes as follows,
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
Once again, the language of the Constitution is very clear. It uses the word person, not living being, not corporation, and not thing. While it may bring up some of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, it makes sure to apply itself only to humans. The rights to life and liberty and property, as described in the fifth amendment, are given only to people. Companies, groups, and businesses all existed long before the Constitution was written, and had America's founding fathers desired to apply these rights to other living beings, they certainly would have done so. However, with the wording that the Constitution currently uses, these rights apply only to humans.
As for Bastiat, my opponent has once again brought up a foreign point of view. There are billions of people on Earth, each of which posses the ability to form opinions on whether or not rights can be attributed to beings that are not corporations. However, these opinions can only be considered as part of this argument if they have been put into American law. The opinions of Bastiat and Takac are important when considering ideals, but, as they took no part in writing American law, their opinions cannot alter the current understanding and wording of the Constitution.
In my opponents closing paragraphs, he once again attempted to assert that corporations are living beings. He stated that corporations are groups of people and should be given their rights. Yet, I already debunked these points in my previous arguments. Cells give life to humans, but humans don't give life to corporations. Corporations are not alive, and only exist as a legal fiction. They have no physical existence. They cannot think, feel, and cannot even be aware of their own existence. Cells, as explained in my last argument, cannot think, feel, and are not aware of their existence either. Humans, on the other hand, do have a physical existence, can think, can feel, and are aware that they are alive. Corporations have a closer relation to the mindless cells that compose humans than they do humans. Cells are not given human rights, and for all of the same reasons, corporations should not be given human rights.
As for corporations being groups of people, I already debunked this idea in my previous argument. Groups of people, such as sports teams, are not given human rights. The humans that compose these groups are given rights, but those rights are not extended to the groups themselves.
For all of the reasons talked about in this debate, corporations cannot and should not be given the same rights that humans have. They are not entities that are capable of thought, and only exist as a legal fiction. Human rights, as was described in America's founding documents, were made for humans. They do not need to be extended to the corporations that people work for, nor should they be given separately to corporations.
I must thank my opponent for this debate. I hope that he enjoyed it as much as I did. Best of luck to him in the upcoming vote.
My Friend Con, thank you for a good debate on an important subject.
Following through with your debate rules stated in Round 1, Pro is “refrain from saying anything in this round” (aka further debate).
And in saying that, please allowed me to mention, I feel your pain, in perhaps, not enjoying all those celebrated dishes of food on the birthday of our Independence, in the shadow of your “oral surgery.”
And in closing I wish you a healthy “Life,” with ample freedom (“Liberty”), in the moral pursuit of Happiness.”
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: An interesting debate. Pro ran a different argument than that normally used to justify rights for corporations--not to inject my own information in as a voter, but the courts have generally ruled that the "corporation" part doesn't have rights, per se, but that the people who own them do, and that those rights extend because of that. Pro instead argued that Corporations should have rights in their own right, including a right to the Corporation's life. I didn't find the argument compelling on its own, and it's the argument upon which Pro's side rested. He almost referenced this notion at the end of his R2, but he didn't really make the case for it. Con, in contrast, focused on noting that people have rights, and that people means people, not corporations. As such, arguments to Con. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.
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