Index ← 3579 CFJ 3580 3581 → text
===============================  CFJ 3580  ===============================

      If there were currently a power 3.9 rule purpoting to allow any
      person to destroy the universe by announcement, without defining
      the effect of this action, and I announced that I destroyed the
      universe in that way (all other aspects of the gamestate being as
      they are now), my announcement would, as far as the game is
      concerned, have the effect it purported to have.


Caller:                        Aris

Judge:                         G.
Judgement:                     TRUE



Called by Aris:                                   21 Oct 2017 01:52:53
Assigned to G.:                                   22 Oct 2017 00:04:34
Judged TRUE by G.:                                26 Oct 2017 22:01:48


Caller's Arguments:

I request that the judge consider the situation both with and without 
existing power 4 rules (101, 1698, and 2029) and also whether the 
destruction of the universe in this way would have practical effect upon 
the game. I also request that the H. Arbitor link the cases [to CFJ 3579] 
and that they have a combined caselog. 

The rules are, for game purposes, omnipotent. In coming together to
play this game, we do something amazing. We create reality. When I say
I give someone a shiny, it is not my intent merely to have everyone
pretend that I have given a shiny. It is my intent to actually give
that person a shiny. All players eventually come to believe that there
is a "platonic" reality that they affect with their game actions.
That's a major part of why I play. If "reality" disagrees with the
rules, there is a very real sense in which reality is wrong. The fact
that we can change something by agreeing upon it is truly amazing. On
the site it says that many players view Agora as "an experiment in
philosophy, political science, and group dynamics, rather than just a
game". I do, and the biggest part of the experiment for me is that we
change our vision of reality by passing a proposal. The fact that we
can change what we believe is an exhilarating experience. Changing
what one belives is not generally easy, but we've all agreed that
Agora means something and that the rules are true, and that's truly
special. I feel so strongly about this point that I somewhat regret
bringing it up, because I'm terrified that the ruling might be that
I'm wrong. If so, I don't really know what I would do. I might
deregister, I might moot, I might keep on playing and just not believe
the CFJ (they aren't inherently binding).

I humbly request that your honor does not rule that the rules as a
whole can be wrong. This is a point so basic that it cannot be proven
using rule text, for obvious reasons. If you want to rule that you are
restricted to interpreting rule text, and want to stick to the
requirements that the rules are "unlimited in scope", have the
"capacity to govern the game generally", and that "when interpreting
and applying the rules, the text of the rules takes precedence" then
that's fine. If you want to rule that the point is non-falsifiable, or
is a matter of personal interpretation, and is therefore out of scope,
then that's also fine. I submit to you however, that a ruling that the
rules as a whole couldn't do something would be along the same lines
as a judge ordering that a section of eir constitution was
unenforceable because it was wrong. You would be attempting to use the
power of the rules (as a judge) to take away power from the rules
themselves. In taking away the absolutely binding status of the rules,
you would, in my opinion, strip the game of meaning.

The other aspects of the case are irrelevant by comparison. I would
suggest the resolution that the destruction of the universe would be
irrelevant to gameplay, because the rules and that which they define
would continue to exist platonically in the void (ideas don't need the
universe or physical reality to function). The only issue is that the
destruction of the universe could be interpreted as also destroying
the players. Whether this would trigger Rule 1698 is a matter of how
you interpret the definition of ossification:

"Agora is ossified if it is IMPOSSIBLE for any reasonable combination
of actions by players to cause arbitrary rule changes to be made
and/or arbitrary proposals to be adopted within a four-week period."

What is the effect of an action that makes it impossible for there to
be any players? It's somewhat ambiguous if Rule 1698 bars the
deregistration/destruction of the last player, or only really has
meaning if there are players. My suggested resolution is that the rule
does indeed bar the elimination of players, because that would make it
impossible for them to take actions, thus making it possible to do
what is described. This position is supported by common sense and the
interests of the game, which disfavor actions likely to cause the
game's effective nonexistence and permanent stasis, which is after all
what Rule 1698 is specifically designed to prevent. However, I would
not necessarily disagree with an alternate interpretation.


Judge G.'s Arguments:

The Caller’s statement involves a bit of question-begging, but we’ll try
to get around that.  In order to know whether a Rules text does what it
“purports” to do, we have to first figure out what it is purporting to
do!  There are several possibilities, all of which require a pre-
supposition of the scope and domain of the Rules.  I will try to
explore the range of possibilities in this judgement, and offer
potential judgements for each before selecting my final option.  For the
purposes of this judgement, the “Protections” are defined as the power 4
rules 101 and 1698.

So, what is a Rule purporting to do if it “succeeds” at “destroying the

The first possibility is that it purports to set the value of an
undefined and untracked variable, and nothing else.  Under this
supposition, if a “destroy the universe” clause is triggered, then we
would simply say “there is now an untracked gamestate variable called
‘the universe’ and its value is ‘destroyed’.  Any CFJ asking whether the
universe “has been destroyed” will now be true, and any future game
conditional that says “if the universe has been destroyed, then X” will
mean X is true.  Beyond that, nothing would happen.  Under this
interpretation, this CFJ would be TRUE - we can clearly set such a
variable without problem.  (Since this interpretation doesn’t damage
anything that the Protections protect against, they aren’t relevant in
this interpretation).

I reject this possibility because words have meaning.  Rule 217 asks us
to use common definitions for terms that are not rules-defined.  If the
clause featured nonsense words, e.g. “all Slurgs are hereby Poiled”,
then this would be the correct interpretation, because we would have no
common sense interpretation other than to say, for CFJ purposes, that
whenever we encounter Slurgs, they are Poiled Slurgs.  But since
“universe” and “destroyed” both have common definitions, I reject this
interpretation - setting a useless gamestate variable is not what a
‘destroy the universe’ clause is purporting to do (see CFJ 1500 for a
similar rejection of this interpretation).

The second possibility is that the clause purports that triggering it
would actually, really, physically destroy the real world universe.
There is no rules-internal logic that forbid the Rules from taking this
interpretation.  In particular, if the clause were re-written to say
“when this clause is activated, the actual, real universe is genuinely
physically destroyed” then this, indeed, would set the rules up for a
confrontation with reality that the Caller (in eir gratuitous arguments)
clearly dreads.  Again, words have meaning, and words like “actual
physical real” are hard to get around.

If this were being purported by the clause, the Protections would
protect us from facing this confrontation with reality.  If the universe
were physically and “really” destroyed, the game would end/cease to
exist, which would violate R101 and R1698.  So we could avoid the
confrontation with reality and simply say FALSE, this clause would be
blocked from taking effect by the Protections.

However, without the Protections, the confrontation with reality would
indeed be forced.  To find this CFJ FALSE on such grounds (due to the
vast range of physical evidence that the rules are incapable of doing
this) would greatly damage the scope of the rules and our perception of
the game, as discussed by the Caller.  There is a logical out, though:
if a clause were activated destroying “the actual physical universe” the
after-the-fact interpretation could be:  “hey, the Universe *was*
actually destroyed, but obviously a new universe was created with all
our memories intact.”  This would allow us to keep faith with both the
rules and reality, though at the price of accepting a scary degree of
solipsism (and accepting that Agora is, in fact, Galactus) .  Since we
couldn’t prove otherwise, we might accept some type of judgement like
IRRELEVANT, INSUFFICIENT, or DISMISS, as ideas like “maybe we were just
created 1 minute ago with our memories intact” are unprovable and/or
irrelevant to our ongoing conduct of the game.  If we judged the clause
before activation, I would pick IRRELEVANT, because if failed, we’d pick
that kind of interpretation, and if it succeed, we wouldn’t be around to

However, I reject this interpretation of what is being purported, for
the less-specific “destroy the universe” phrase in question.  We have,
in fact, through ratification, rejected the real world many times
without worrying about such confrontations, and while I’m willing to
make some philosophical decisions for the sake of practicality, taking
that kind of solipsistic approach draws into question our legal approach
to important standards like “beyond a reasonable doubt” (if we can
assume the universe was destroyed and re-created just for us, then no
doubt or line of argument is unreasonable by comparison).

Mentioning ratification and legal standards leads us to the third
option, which is the one I favor.  If the clause is activated, and the
clause is “silent” on its explicit scope (by not saying things like
“actual physical real”), that by default scope is to set up a legal
fiction that the universe was destroyed for the purposes of rule and
gamestate interpretation, without purporting to change “external”
reality.  Setting up of legal fictions, mainly these days through
ratification, has long been embraced by Agora, and so this, is what I
find that (by default) such a clause would “purport” to do if
successfully activated:  it would create a legal fiction that the
universe has been destroyed.

So, now that we (finally) know what such a clause purports to do, what
would be the effect of accepting such a legal fiction?

Well, that wholly depends:  is the gamestate itself a part of the
Universe, or apart from it?

Insomuch as the universe is defined as “everything”, it would seem at
first to be a no-brainer that the gamestate is a part of the universe.
If so, then activating the clause would destroy the game - the rules,
the switches, the gamestate.  It would just end the game, and have the
same effect as a simple high-powered statement “rules to the contrary
notwithstanding, the game is over”.  Clearly the Protections stop this
from happening (R1698 is explicit that Agora can’t cease to exist), but
if the Protections weren’t there, the game would, in fact, end.

However, I reject this supposition as well.  I do not believe we treat
the gamestate as part of the universe.  In our words and deeds, we are
committed Platonists with respect to the gamestate, as is evidenced by
many aspects of our culture: our CFJs, our discussions of the “true”
gamestate, and our very name of Agora, bringing to mind ancient
philosophy, leads me to conclude:  The “gamestate” is part of Plato’s
perfect forms - like infinity, it exists apart from our imperfect and
quantized universe.  While we can never come to a true logical
conclusion on the truth or existence of the gamestate’s Platonic form,
we can make the decision to believe in it: just like we assume as an
axiom the existence of free will (in R869, and philosophically in
judgements such as CFJ 1895).  And thus, I find that one of our
fundamental Agoran axoims, strongly held in our culture as evidenced by
the Caller’s impassioned arguments, is that the gamestate exists “apart”
from the physical universe in some kind of Platonic perfect state.

So:  Agora exists apart from the universe, and the universe is (legally)
destroyed.  What happens?  Well, the gamestate ceases to recognize any
inputs from the universe as being valid (how could they be valid if the
universe is destroyed?)  In particular, the gamestate recognizes that
fora are external (assumed in R478 to exist without being explicitly
defined) as are natural persons (originators of free thought) -
therefore the game would not recognize any persons nor fora nor
communications as existing or valid.  So far so good.

But a third thing is that the passage of time - an inherent part of the
universe - would not continue to exist for legal purposes.  Without the
Protections, this would put the game in a suspended state: existing, but
refusing to recognize any external inputs or the passage of time - pure
and perfect, it would be encased in its own solitary existence with no
way to break out.

With the Protections, it’s a bit more puzzling.  Since the game wouldn’t
end or cease to exist, R101 would not be protective, nor would the
“cease to exist” clause in R1698.  At first, it would seen that R1698
would protect us as there would be no way for proposals to be adopted
within 4 weeks.  However, if time has stopped, that may not be true!
How do you measure whether something can happen “within 4 weeks” if that
4 weeks never passes?  (Any B-Nomic denizens remember the Game Clock?)
After all, if time were to start again, it would mean the universe (and
fora, and persons) were back and we could proceed as usual.

This brings me to my final conclusion.  Quite simply, when Agora ceases
to recognize the external universe, it ceases to recognize inputs from
persons and fora and the passage of time, but it continues to exist.
Therefore many of the clauses of R101 and R1698 are not triggered.  Time
would stop, but since it would still be possible to pass rules *if* time
became measureable again, the “within 4 weeks” clause of R1698 would not
be triggered.  The “destroy the universe” clause would take effect in
spite of the protections, and we would have finally achieved a perfect
Agora, shining and trapped in metaphorical amber, perfectly capable and
ready for playing, but waiting for a universe that no longer exists.