============================== CFJ 1215 ==============================
If we post to a Public Forum a message in the form "If and only if t
is standing up at the time we wrote this message, we transfer 10 VTs
to t.", and t is indeed standing up at the time we wrote the
message, and if there are no general conditions preventing any
transfer of 10 VTs (such as a lack of funds), then 10 VTs are
transferred from us to t.
Called by Wes: 14 May 2000 21:30:53 GMT
Assigned to lee: 15 May 2000 20:10:29 GMT
lee recused: 20 May 2000 04:48:05 GMT
Assigned to Chuck: 20 May 2000 13:09:29 GMT
Judged FALSE by Chuck: 27 May 2000 12:58:38 GMT
> You can't point a gun at someone and declare, "If you are evil, I
> hereby shoot you" and have the gun fire if and only if the person is
> evil. Why should speech acts be subjected to a different analysis?
On the other hand, if we call our stockbroker and say "if and only if
we have not already bought shares of this stock in the last day or two,
we want to buy X number of shares."
This way, if we leave this message on his office voicemail, home answering
machine, pager voicemail and cellphone voicemail, we will only get X
shares of the stock, rather than 4X shares of the stock.
One may argue that in this case, the stockbroker is atually performing
the action rather than the caller. We disagree. One never says that
"one's stockbroker bought shares of a stock". One says "we bought shares
of a stock". Actions which require cooperation on the part of a third
party are still refered to as actions performed by the instigating
agent. In fact, if one is not familiar with the nature of buying stocks,
one might not even know that the action was not performed directly. It
is not obvious to an uninformed observer.
Agora is in a similar situation. When we post to a Public Forum that we
transfer some Currency, in one way we are directly performing an action.
The legal fiction is that the Currency automagically transfers from one
account to another without any intervention whatsoever.
The reality, evident to those actually in the situation rather than some
spectators, is that what we are really doing is instructing the Currency
Recordkeepor to adjust some numbers for us. Because we are, in reality,
giving instructions to an imperfect agent, there is the potential for various
sorts of miscommunications, thus conditional messages like we constructed
above are not only necessary, but logical and consistant with the current
legal situation. Of course, such instructions are only meaningful if the
cooperating agent (the Recordkeepor) can determine without question the
truthfulness of the condition. Otherwise, the statement ceases to be a
simple action and becomes more akin to Kelly's example where the action's
state of fulfullment is uncertain.
There is also the simple fact that, as Kelly pointed out, actions in the
context of Agora only have meaning as provided by the Rules. The Rules
provide a specific effect for those statements made in the form "We
transfer X Currency to Y". Since Agora furthermore complies with the
basic function of the English language, and since no restrictions are
put upon the use of additional language constructs, and since the Rules
do specifically permit the unrestricted, one can embed this sort of a
statement within a conditional statement, so long as the conditional
statement complies with the linguistic rules of the English language.
Thus, for a couple of different reasons, statements of a conditional
nature would be perfectly effective.
Judge Chuck's Arguments:
There are a number of issues to be addressed in this CFJ. Some of
these will be (correctly) seen to be trivial by the reader, but are
addressed in order to properly evaluate the CFJ, to forestall
questions about the correctness of this CFJ on those grounds, and
to make some points which are relevant to subsequent issues.
1. Whether "I transfer 10 VTs to t", posted to a Public Forum,
constitutes a Transfer Order.
Rule 1598 states, in part,
A Transfer Order is an Order requiring the Recordkeepor of a
Currency to note the transfer of units of that Currency from one
entity to another.
Rule 1793 states, in part,
An Order is a command, executed by a Player and directed to some
entity requiring that entity to perform exactly one action, or
to refrain from performing one or more actions.
It is not immediately clear from the Rules and the sentence posted,
that anyone is required to do anything, or that the statement is
directed to anyone in particular. However, there is
a very strong Game Custom that this does constitute a Transfer
Order. It is therefore reasonable to interpret this to implicitly
be directed to the VT Recordkeepor, and to require em to note the
transfer of 10 VTs to t. Therefore, I find that (as long as other
requirements for valid Transfer Orders are satisfied) such a
sentence constitutes a valid Transfer Order.
2. Whether "We transfer 10 VTs to t", posted by Wes to a Public Forum,
constitutes a Transfer Order.
Rule 1598 also states, in part,
A valid Transfer Order specifies exactly one
While it is sorely tempting to find that Wes' use of "we" indicates a
plural, and thus does not specify exactly one source entity, once
again Game Custom compels us to accept Wes' use of the royal "we" as
a reference to emself, since it has been so accepted in the past. It
should be noted that the statement of this CFJ specifies that the
hypothetical message is "in the form" shown. I take this to mean
that the hypothetical message consists *only* of the text quoted in
the CFJ. If additional text were present (such as something to
indicate that the message is the product of a committee), it might
alter this conclusion. Thus, "We transfer 10 VTs to t", posted
by Wes, and in the absence of any other conditions which would
invalidate it, constitutes a valid Transfer Order.
3. Whether "If we have not already done so this Nomic Week, we
transfer 10 VTs to t", posted by Wes, and if e had not already
made such a transfer this week, constitutes a Transfer Order.
Is this a command "executed by a Player and directed to some
entity requiring that entity to perform exactly one action" and,
if so, does it require "the Recordkeepor of a Currency to note the
transfer of units of that Currency from one entity to another",
as is required in order to be a Transfer Order? Certainly, it does
neither explicitly; but then, neither did the statement in (1), so
that alone cannot be sufficient reason to conclude this is not a
Transfer Order. Again, I find that this sort of statement has
been interpreted as a valid Transfer Order in the past and thus
has the support of Game Custom. Despite my misgivings about whether
this interpretation is in the best interests of the game, I find
that Game Custom is strong enough--such Orders have been made and
accepted without challenge many times--to trump such concerns.
I find that this statement, in the absence of any other conditions
which would invalidate it, constitutes a valid Transfer Order.
4. Whether "If and only if t is standing up at the time we wrote this
message, we transfer 10 VTs to t.", posted by Wes to a Public Forum,
and if t is standing up at the time Wes wrote the message,
constitutes a Transfer Order.
I begin by noting that the validity of the quoted statements in (1),
(2), and (3) as Transfer Orders are *all* based on Game Custom--even
(1) is not clearly and unambiguously a Transfer Order based clearly
on the Rules alone.
I further note that there is *no* Game Custom to support the reading
of this statement as a Transfer Order. This statement differs from
(3), in that the conditional part of (3) is based on information which
is generally recorded by the Accountor (the Office to which the Order
is directed), while the conditional part here is not. I thus turn
to the best interests of the game, and find that to interpret this
statement as a Transfer Order would be very much against the best
interests of the game, due to the difficulty, and likely
impossibility, of determining whether t was standing up at the time
the message was written. Indeed, t emself may not know this--I
certainly could not say whether or not I was standing exactly 12
hours ago. It is very much against the best interests of the game
for it to be impossible to determine whether or not a given statement
is a Transfer Order, and thus I find that this statement does not
constitute a Transfer Order.
I note that Caller's analogy to the stockbroker also supports this
interpretation--while "if and only if we have not already bought shares
of this stock in the last day or two, we want to buy X number of shares"
would be accepted by the stockbroker, this is only because the
stockbroker is generally responsible for knowing whether or not the
trader has bought shares recently. A statement such as "if and only
if t is standing, we want to buy X number of shares" would be
rejected by the stockbroker.
5. Whether there exists a single consistent interpretation of Rules
1598 and 1793 which supports the conclusions of both (3) and (4).
One may reasonably ask, what consistent interpretation of
the text of Rules 1598 and 1793 is there which would allow the
statement in (3) to be a Transfer Order, but not the statement
in (4)? I seem to have offered a test (whether the person or Office
to which the putative Order is directed is also the person or Office
generally responsible for maintaining the information required to
evaluate the truth of the conditional) which is unsupported by
the Rules. Indeed, the test is intended to determine whether or not
the conditional falls into the set supported by Game Custom as in (3),
but such a test has no direct support by the Rules. I offer no
consistent interpretation of Rules 1598 and 1793 to support my
conclusions; perhaps there is none. While it may well be
in the interests of the game to have a consistent interpretation
of Rules 1598 and 1793, I find that such interests are trumped
by a very strong game custom in (3), and the stronger interests of
being able to determine whether or not a statement constitutes
a Transfer Order in (4).
I find the statement of this CFJ to be FALSE.