============================== CFJ 1748 ==============================
The ratification of an announcement of the resolution of an Agoran
decision can change the decision's outcome.
Called by root: 22 Sep 2007 17:18:15 GMT
Assigned to Zefram: 23 Sep 2007 18:34:05 GMT
Judged FALSE by Zefram: 29 Sep 2007 20:26:12 GMT
Appealed by Association of Federated Organizations:
04 Oct 2007 07:03:48 GMT
Appealed by omd: 04 Oct 2007 15:01:23 GMT
Appealed by root: 04 Oct 2007 15:36:36 GMT
Appeal 1748a: 04 Oct 2007 16:03:45 GMT
REMANDED on Appeal: 21 Oct 2007 15:45:59 GMT
Assigned to Zefram: 21 Oct 2007 19:03:13 GMT
Judged FALSE by Zefram: 25 Oct 2007 11:10:24 GMT
The self-ratification of the resolution of an Agoran decision is
established by Rule 2034/3. However, the same rule states that "Once
an Agoran decision has been resolved, ... the outcome of the decision
may not be changed in any way, any rule to the contrary
>From Rule 1551/9, "When a document is ratified, the gamestate is
modified so that the ratified document was completely true and
accurate at the time it was published." In reference to the
resolution of an Agoran decision, this may entail changing the outcome
of the decision. Rule 2034/3 claims precedence over Rule 1551/9 and
forbids that change.
I argue that the fact that R2034 itself establishes the
self-ratification of the resolution of an Agoran decision is
irrelevant, as it is R1551 and not R2034 that defines what
Judge Zefram's Arguments:
This case depends partly on which rule contains the claim that the
outcome of an Agoran decision can be changed by ratification. If we
take the meaning of "self-ratifying" to be self-evident, and implying
this ability to change the outcome, then rule 2034 might be seen to
conflict with itself, and the resolution of this CFJ would be a matter
of interpreting this self-inconsistent rule. If, on the other hand,
"self-ratifying" does not imply an ability to change the outcome,
then it would be rule 1551 that attempts to institute such changes,
in conflict with rule 2034 which takes precedence.
I find that "self-ratifying" is not an opaque term. The ordinary English
meaning of "ratify" gives considerable clue as to the intent of the term.
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English says "to make
valid", among a list of similar meanings. Furthermore, the history of
the use of this word in the context of Agora ratifies this meaning, and
augments it with the specific feature that ratification of a document
can change parts of the game state.
I think, therefore, it is clear that where a rule describes a document as
"self-ratifying" the rule intends that in some reasonable circumstances
(the details of which are not necessarily specified) that document could
change the game state to conform to the information contained within it.
However, rule 2034 doesn't do that. What it describes as self-ratifying
is not a document, but "[t]he resolution of an Agoran decision".
The resolution of an Agoran decision is a process, governed by rule 208.
Rule 2034's second paragraph explicitly distinguishes between this
process and documents describing it, when it refers to "errors in
reporting the resolution of an Agoran decision". Clearly the report is
not the resolution.
So the final paragraph of rule 2034 does not attempt to make a document
self-ratifying, but rather to make the resolution process self-ratifying.
Per rule 208, an announcement that purports to resolve an Agoran decision
but announces incorrect votes or results is not a valid resolution notice,
and so does not resolve the decision. The final paragraph of rule 2034
therefore does not refer to such incorrect notices. It only refers to a
"resolution", which can only occur by a correct announcement of results.
It is unclear what it means for a process that necessarily involves a
correct document to be "self-ratifying".
Having ruled out the possibility of rule 2034 itself instituting a
ratification of the type envisioned in the statement, it only remains
to consider the general case of a ratification from some other source.
The only such source of ratification in the current rules is the second
paragraph of rule 1551, ratification without objection. As correctly
noted by the initiator, rule 2034 takes precedence over rule 1551 (which
is now both the source of ratification and the source of detailed
definition) and prevents a change to the outcome. A ratification
could also presumably be initiated by a proposal, which would refer to
rule 1551's definitions. As rules categorically take precedence over
proposals, rule 2034 would once again prevent a change to the outcome.
A ratification initiated by a rule with Power>3, or which otherwise
took precedence over rule 2034 would be a different, more complicated,
situation. However, the consideration of hypothetical rules that don't
presently exist is out of scope for this inquiry.
Appellant Association of Federated Organizations's Arguments:
It is reasonable to interpret the phrase in question as a metonym
for "a document purporting to resolve an Agoran decision".
Judge Zefram's Arguments:
Try as I might, I can't convince myself that "the resolution of an Agoran
decision" means "a document purporting to resolve an Agoran decision".
I don't see precedent in the rules for such a transference of meaning.
It is true that the literal interpretation renders part of the rule
meaningless, whereas the proposed counter-literal interpretation
would give the whole rule meaning. Certainly, having every part of
the rule make sense is a reasonable criterion when choosing between
equally-plausible readings of part of a rule. But this is not a case of
ambiguity or unclarity. The phrase in question is perfectly clear, and
cannot be given a contradictory meaning by virtue of the meaninglessness
of a different part of the rule.
There is plenty of precedent for having rules, or parts thereof, that
are nonsensical and therefore ineffective. Most of the Frankenstein
Rule fell into this category, of course, and we've had rules referring
to non-existent entities for various reasons. This situation is not
particularly problematic, and so the aim of avoiding it does not merit
the heroic efforts of reinterpretation that the appellant proposes.
I therefore must judge CFJ 1748 FALSE once more.