From: Wes Contreras <magika@aracnet.com>
To: agora-off <agora-official@gecko.serc.rmit.edu.au>
Subject: OFF: CFJ 1147 OVERTURNED to FALSE
Date: Monday, September 06, 1999 10:18 AM


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                              CFJ 1147

    It must always be possible to make arbitrary modifications to
    the ruleset by some combination of player actions, even if Rule
    114 is repealed.

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Called by:           Palnatoke

Judge:               Elysion
Judgement:           TRUE
Appeals Justices:    Chuck, Kolja, Wes
Appeals Decision:    OVERTURN to FALSE

Judge selection:

Eligible:            Annabel, Elysion, harvel, Kolja, Michael,
                     Murphy, Peekee, Vlad, Wes

Not eligible:
Caller:              Palnatoke
Barred:              -
Had their turn:      Beefurabi, Blob, Chuck, Crito, elJefe
Already served:      -
Defaulted:           -
By request:          -
On Hold:             Lee, Oerjan, Steve

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History:

Called by Palnatoke:                  31 Jul 1999 14:10:52 +0200
Assigned to Elysion:                  03 Aug 1999 16:47:12 GMT
Judged TRUE by Elysion:               03 Aug 1999 13:30:05 -0400
Judgement published:                  03 Aug 1999 19:07:01 GMT
Appeal called for by Blob:            04 Aug 1999 12:06:44 +1000
Appeal called for by Steve:           29 Aug 1999 20:03:41 +1000
Appeal called for by Wes:             30 Aug 1999 11:38:13 -0700
Appeal Distributed:                   30 Aug 1999 11:48:36 -0700
Wes moves to OVERTURN:                03 Sep 1999 10:32:30 -0700
Chuck moves to OVERTURN:              06 Sep 1999 10:52:55 -0500
Kolja moves to OVERTURN:              06 Sep 1999 18:41:32 +0200
Appeal Decision published:            As of this message

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Caller's Arguments:

What nags me here is the 'always'. It seems to imply that it stays
law, even if we get rid of it. I haven't checked all the other
'always'es, but this is sufficiently different from the one in
Rule 101, methinks.

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Evidence attached by the Caller:

Rule 101/0 (Power=3)
Obey the Rules

     All Players must always abide by all the Rules then in effect,
     in the form in which they are then in effect.  The Rules in the
     Initial Set are in effect at the beginning of the first game.
     The Initial Set consists of Rules 101-116 (Immutable) and
     201-219 (Mutable).

Rule 114/1 (Power=3)
Rules Can Always Be Changed

     It must always be possible to make arbitrary modifications to
     the ruleset by some combination of player actions.  Any change
     to the gamestate that would cause this condition to become false
     does not occur, any rule to the contrary notwithstanding.

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Judge's Arguments:

By playing Agora, we enter into a meta-game agreement to agree on the
rules. This does not mean we have to agree on a specific rule _change_
as long as we agree on the rules that allow the change (i.e. I can
disagree with a proposal, but as long as I agree to abide by the rules
that allow the proposal to take effect, there is no meta-game
infraction). If all players of Agora agree to change a rule, then
there is nothing stopping us from doing so, whether by directly
modifying the current game state or starting a clone game identical to
the original, except with regard to the change. The players could
even, theoretically, change a meta-game rule (since it could be
considered a higher Nomic).

Repealing the meta-game rule to obey player actions by unanimous
agreement is possible, but trivially pointless. There must exist
_some_ subset of players that agrees on a ruleset (normal, meta, and
beyond meta), even if it is only a single person. That person is now
playing their own, individual game of Agora, and it is _still_
possible for em to change the rules by simply agreeing with emself
that a different ruleset is the "correct" one.

As to the game itself, disregarding meta-game actions, there is no
requirement that the rules be able to be changed. Consider the
following ruleset:

    The Rule:
        This rule will always exist in this form and unchanged. No
        other rules will ever exist in any form. The players must
        always obey this rule and must never obey any other authority.

A boring game, but quite possible from the current Agoran ruleset.

Also, the word "always" in rule 114 is equivalent to "as long as this
rule is recognized as authoritative". There exists a counter-rule
reading:

    Rule 114':
        It must always be impossible to make arbitrary modifications
        to the ruleset by some combination of player actions. Any
        change to the gamestate that would cause this condition to
        become false does not occur, any rule to the contrary
        notwithstanding.

This rule is not a part of the agreed-upon Agoran ruleset, but in all
other respects, it is just as valid.

To further illustrate the point, imagine the following ruleset:

    Rule A:
        The moon may be any color. The following are the only valid
        colors: blue, orange, Murphy.

    Rule B:
        The moon is always blue. This rule will repeal itself two days
        after taking effect.

Clearly, the moon is always blue only as long as rule B (or a rule
with a similar effect) is a part of the ruleset.

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Evidence attached by the Justices:

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Justice Wes' Arguments:

Elysion made a very eloquent argument regarding metagame elements
and referred to the commonsense fact that if all the players of any
game, whether it be Agora Nomic, another nomic, or some other game,
agree to some change in the rules, then that change in the rules
becomes a part of the new game.

It is our opinion, however, that such a change in the rules does
not come about from some mechanism within the game itself, but is
rather imposed upon the game from without, and that this (or any)
Judgement should only deal with those actions which can be performed
within the bounds of the Rules as given.

Given that premise, the Judgement to be returned becomes quite clear.
Rule 101 clearly states that the Rules are to be obeyed. Rule 116,
quite possibly the most permissive Rule of the Game, prohibits any
changes to the Rules except as allowed for by the Rules. If these
two Rules remain, and there is no means specified to change the
Rules (which would require Rule 114 to be Repealed - an unlikely
event), then the Rules cannot be changed from within the Game.

We therefore move to OVERTURN Judgement to FALSE.

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Justice Chuck's Arguments:

It is certainly possible that the Rules might be changed so that
no modifications to the Ruleset are permitted by the Rules.  It
is also possible that the Rules might still be _de facto_ changed by
mutual agreement of all Players involved in the game.  These facts do
not seem to be disputed.

The questions of interest are then a) does such an agreement consitute
a continuation of the old game, or is it a creation of a new game,
very similar to the old one; and b) should a judgement such as this
recognize such an outside-the-rules agreement?

(a) is a tricky question.  My natural inclination would be to say it
is the same game, as it doesn't seem to fit what we normally think of
as "starting a new game."  On the other hand, the "starting a new game"
is philosophically satisfying, as then we are not burdened with trying
to explain how we changed the Rules of the game when that is clearly
forbidden by the Rules.  I will merely point these out, however, and
leave the question unanswered.

(b) is tricky as well.  Judgements must accord with the Rules--that is,
if a Rule said "the sun is 3.5 meters in diameter," and a CFJ stated,
"the sun is 3.5 meters in diameter," the requirement that Judgements
accord with the Rules would require this statement to be Judged TRUE,
despite the fact that we know the sun is *not* 3.5 meters in diameter.
However, it does not follow that Judgements about hypothetical Rulesets
must accord with those hypothetical Rules.  While the requirement
that Judgements must accord with the Rules may sometimes require
Judges to ignore fact in favor of legal fiction, there is no
requirement that Judges likewise ignore fact in favor of a hypothetical
legal fiction supposed by a CFJ.  So I cannot overturn this Judgement
merely on the point that the Rules might not be able to be changed
within the Rules.

However, I can imagine at least one case in which it *would* be
impossible for the Rules to be changed, even by agreement: if a time
arose when there were no Players, and no provisions in the Rules
for new Players joining.  One might question whether Agora even
exists in such a case, but in either case the answer is still the same:
If Agora continues to exist without any Players, and without any
provisions for Players to join, as a platonic ideal, then even
the agreement of all people in the world cannot change its Rules; on
the other hand, if we take the pragmatic attitude that without any
Players, Agora ceases to exist, then there is certainly no possible
way to change its Rules.

My decision is therefore to OVERTURN the Judgement, reversing it to
FALSE.

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Justice Kolja's Arguments:

I appreciate the efforts of Judge Elysion, and find eir arguments very
thought provoking.

I agree with CotC Wes, though, that this CFJ could, and should, have
been judged without recourse to the meta rules level.

Such a judgement within the horizon of Agora's rules would allow for,
and require, a lot of creative thinking. I do not believe that the
priviledge to make such creative contributions to the game should be
limited to appeals judges, though. I believe that Agora custom is
right in stressing that the primary duty of an apeals court is
checking judgements made by others, but that appeal judges should not
repeat the work of judging the CFJ completely and only uphold a
judgement if they happen to reach the same conclusion based on the
same or similar arguments.

Therefore I hereby move to reverse the original judgement of judge
Elysion and reassign the CFJ to a new judge, who will hopefully use
the chance to provide some creative input based on Agora's rules
proper.

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