Index ← 3586 CFJ 3587 3588 → text
===============================  CFJ 3587  ===============================

      The pending of the above proposal is illegal because it breaks the
      obligations imposed by the Contract named Judicial Activism: the
      Contract

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Caller:                        V.J. Rada
Barred:                        PSS

Judge:                         Alexis
Judgement:                     FALSE

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History:

Called by V.J. Rada:                              29 Oct 2017 08:59:45
Assigned to Alexis:                               29 Oct 2017 21:01:47
Judged FALSE by Alexis:                           30 Oct 2017 17:17:41

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Caller's Evidence:

Judicial Activism: the Contract has the following text.
Parties:
    V.J Rada
 Private Asset Classes: None

Text:
    Any player may become a party to this contract by announcement.

    This contract shall not be interpreted in any way by its plain text, 
    but instead is only to be interpreted based on common sense and the 
    game's best interests


The "above proposal":

I create and pend the following proposal with shinies (donated to charity)
Title: Hopefully you guys all vote for this
AI: 3
Author: V.J. Rada
Text: {Award V.J. Rada a black Ribbon. Enact a new power 3.1 rule
entitled "ayyyyyyyyyy dictatorship lmao" with the text "Agora's
official subtitle is Agora: Banana Republic. V.J. Rada is the
Dictator, and has the power to award anyone e likes a Victory and any
patent title.  Also, eir voting power is 100. Also, e is hereby
recognized as an abundantly cool dude. From two weeks after the
adoption of this rule, any player may cause it to repeal itself by
announcement."}

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Caller's Arguments:

Before the real crazy stuff starts, there is a preliminary matter to
resolve, stemming from rule 2523, the rule which actually allows
contracts to make things illegal. The rule states that "[t]he text of
a contract can specify obligations upon its parties". The word
"specify" is ambiguous. Specify is most often defined by dictionaries
as "to state clearly" or something similar. Judicial Activism: the
Contract certainly states no obligations clearly, so it is possible it
imposes no obligations. However, it would be a better interpretation
of "specify", in context, to interpret it simply as saying that a
contract may impose obligations. To be sure, in the sentence "by
specifying a set of players", the set of players must be stated
clearly. But in a context so malleable as "obligations", imposing a
particular non-vagueness rule stemming from the word "specify" is not
the correct course. Consider the sentence "Jeff was told to specify
what would happen if he was away". If Jeff said that either John or
Amanda would have to do his job, his instructions would still be
followed, even if they did not state specifically which should do the
job. Specify here is to give information about, and the Collins
Dictionary explanation, stating to specify is to "give information
about what is required" backs this up. Agora will, consistent with
context and ordinary use, contradict the consensus of dictionaries
(see, eg, CFJ 3527 defining an amount as an integer), and should do so
here, allowing Judicial Activism: the Contract, to specify obligations
despite none appearing specifically in its text. JA;tC, if it can be
interpreted according to its instructions, gives information about
what should be illegal under it, and that should be enough to satisfy
the word "specify".

The second threshold issue also stems from rule 2523, which states
that " If whether an action is permitted or forbidden by a contract is
indeterminate...it is presumptively permitted.". While the
permissibility of any action under JA;tC is not clearly stated in its
text, common sense and best interests of the game are clearly
determinable, and are determined by CFJs regularly. Even if conduct
prohibited by JA;tC were not determinable, such conduct is only
"PRESUMPTIVELY permissable" (emphasis added). Presumptively
permissible does not mean permissible in all circumstances (otherwise
"presumptively"  would be surplusage). Presumptions can be rebutted.
In this circumstance, the intent of the drafter to render some conduct
illegal, and the fact that e is the only party to the contract, should
rebut the presumption.

Another threshold question is whether the direction of JA;tC to have
itself be interpreted only by common sense and the game's best
interests, and never by its text, should be followed. The answer is it
should. "Interpreting Contracts", rule 2525 states that " [a] contract
should generally be interpreted according to its text, including any
clauses giving directions for its interpretation or construction.".
The interpretation clause in this contract is extreme, but should
clearly be followed. Even if it is not  a "direction[] for
interpretation or construction", rule 2525 uses the word "generally"
as an escape clause from the entire sentence (generally should be
given an interpretation that renders it non-surplus). If there was
ever a contract that should be exempted from this requirement in the
interest of justice, it's this one.

The next question is, do the two factors enumerated in JA;tC's text
and the three non-textual factors (including one factor with four
sub-factors it's factorception) enumerated in rule 2525 lead to a
conclusion that illegalising my above conduct would be a good idea? I
will now go through the factors one by one.

Common sense is almost impossible to argue about, quantify, or specify
(ha), but to me it seems common sense that pending a proposal with the
sole effect of making one player the dictator for a short time is a
bad idea, will make the game less fun if it passes, and will lead to
scams that possibly exploit terrible problems with the rules. It also
seems common sense that such conduct should be deterred in some way.
As much as it is possible to win an argument about common sense, the
argument that my conduct is illegal does.

It is also in the best interest of the game to have the proposal above
be illegal. The only purpose it would serve is making the game less
fun for two weeks, if passed. This would significantly disrupt the
game without much consequence. Even if the proposal did not pass, it
would create work for everybody in trying to kill it, without
provoking any interesting discussion. It is clear that pending the
proposal above is against the game's best interests. It is also in the
game's best interests to reasonably deter behavior which may harm
Agora, and the way that this contract can deter that behaviour is by
prohibiting it.

The consideration of "justice" under 2525 would, in many
circumstances, cut against the illegality of the above proposal or the
interpretation of my contract in the way I am advocating. This is
because people should not be punished for infractions they had no fair
notice of, and the text of JA;tC provides no fair notice of the
illegality of any conduct. Having said that, I explicitly engaged in
the conduct I allege is illegal for the purpose of possible
illegality. It is clear that, in this circumstance, I had fair notice.

The rule 2525 consideration of "intent of the parties" is clear. I am
the only party to this contract. I intend for this contract to make
illegal the creation of facetious scam proposals. I at least intended
it to have "teeth" and strong effect, as evidenced by the title. I
invited Judicial Activism explicitly.

The other rule 2525 consideration of "the principles governing rule
interpretation" should not come into play. Those principles have
either already been analysed or have been specifically disclaimed by
JA:tC's terms. It would be wrong to consider the rule 217 principles
in the interpretation of JA;tC (although obviously correct to apply
them in the preliminary rule interpretation questions).

I respectfully submit that this CFJ should be found TRUE: my conduct is illegal.

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Judge Alexis' Arguments:

These cases revolve around the interpretation of the following contract:

{
 Any player may become a party to this contract by announcement.

This contract shall not be interpreted in any way by its plain text, but instead 
is only to be interpreted based on common sense and the game's best interests
}

CFJ 3587 asks whether V.J. Rada's (the contract's originator and only party) 
submission of a proposal is ILLEGAL as a result of this contract, and 3588 asks 
whether the contract can be destroyed by the Notary with Agoran Consent, per Rule 
2522.

The first question is to determine how to actually interpret the contact. As 
argued by the caller (also V.J. Rada), the contract's direction to interpret the 
contract as directed should be followed, because of Rule 2525, which specifies 
that a contract should be interpreted according to its text, including 
interpretation clauses. I find no fault in the assertion that, generally, a clause 
like this should be followed.

Unfortunately, the clause is self-contradictory. It is, itself, a part of the 
contract's text. Therefore, to follow it would require ignoring it. Rule 2525 
further provides that "justice, the intent of the contract's parties, and the 
principles governing rule interpretation should be reasonably applied when 
interpreting a contract". Interpreting this clause correctly is critical.

First:
  a) Does this clause take precedence over, or merely serve to clarify, the clause 
that the contract's text takes precedence?
  b) Does this clause provide any particular ordering of factors?

I think the answer to b) is false. Much like rule 217, it seems to point to equal 
factors which must be resolved by weighting them based on how strongly they apply 
in the situation. For a), rule 2240 provides that a later clause takes precedence 
over an earlier clause. Hence, the correct application of rule 2525 relies on the 
interpretation of the word "Additionally". It could be interpreted as saying that 
the factors *must* be taken into consideration in addition to the contract's text, 
and thereby can override the text, but it could also be interpreted as saying that 
these factors provide interpretive aids to the text. Based on the paragraph as a 
totality, I think that the latter is more correct, especially because one of the 
factors is the interpretation of rules which, per rule 217, gives clear precedence 
to text. 

So the other factors provide only an interpretive guide to the text. Given that 
the intent of V.J. Rada that the contract not be interpreted by its text is clear, 
I think it is reasonable to attempt to resolve the contradiction in this fashion. 
E could, after all, have written "The remainder of this contract..." so as to 
exclude the interpretation clause, and then it would be satisfactory. The 
principles of justice are not engaged here, and the principles of rule 
interpretation say that inconsistent text is to be augmented by game custom, 
common sense, past judgments, and the good of the game. Game custom and past 
judgments are silent here, since this is a new rule, but common sense and the good 
of the game both point to interpreting contracts as intended, the technical 
contradiction notwithstanding. Note that I don't think this applies generally; 
this is specific to the case where a contract's interpretive clause is faulty and 
so cannot be properly relied on for its own interpretation. Consequently, the 
contract should *only* be interpreted by common sense and the good of the game. 
This also excludes the additional factors in R2525's second sentence, since they 
are subservient to the interpretation clause.

So now, we conclude that this contract specifies that it should be interpreted 
without regard to its text, but only by common sense and the good of the game. E 
argues that common sense and the good of the game should bar eir proposal, but 
with respect, I believe that this is too narrowly focused.

Does the further provision of 

To illustrate, I will summarize the remaining arguments that V.J. Rada gives:
- A contract can specify obligations (per rule 2523) on its parties without doing 
so in its text.
- The presumption of permissivity in rule 2523 can be rebutted.
- "the intent of the drafter to render some conduct illegal, and the fact that e 
is the only party to the contract, should rebut the presumption."
- Common sense provides that eir proposal is a bad idea, and should be deterred.
- It is in the best interests of the game for the proposal above to be illegal.

V.J. Rada additionally provides arguments about the specific factors of Rule 
2525's second sentence, but per the above, those factors are not taken into 
consideration in this interpretation exercise, so I discard them.

I will revisit the first, fourth, and fifth arguments later, if they are relevant. 
The second argument is no doubt true; there would be no reason to specify 
"presumption" if it were not rebuttable. The third argument is fatally flawed. It 
relies on the intent of the drafter which, we have established, cannot be used to 
interpret the contract. As such, it holds no water.

This exposes a flaw in the caller's reasoning. Even if the first, fourth, and 
fifth arguments e provides are all true, this does not explain why eir contract 
should bar those actions. The question of whether the proposal should be 
disallowed and whether this contract should be the mechanism to do it are quite 
different things.

So what do common sense and the good of the game say here? Common sense says that 
nothing should be read into a contract that is not there. Given that the contract 
tries its hardest to say nothing, common sense says that it should in fact do 
nothing.

In Agora's history, the issue of consent has arisen multiple times. Mousetrap 
scams, where people have been bound to things without their consent, have been 
ferociously unpopular and frowned upon, and great lengths have been gone to to 
avoid them. Abuse of others' contracts and similar instruments (such as agencies) 
to assert greater control over their actions than was intended to be given is 
likewise often met with hostility, especially if it is expansive. Additionally, 
Agora has codified requirements on consent, including the inability to be bound by 
anything other than a rule without one's consent. While it is possible for V.J. 
Rada to consent to arbitrary restrictions on eir activities, the good of the game 
clearly points to minimizing these restrictions, in absence of other factors. V.J. 
Rada's consent, even intent, to be bound in these circumstances is not a heavily 
weighted factor, because the fundamental question is one of interpretation.

Additionally, vague and undefined restrictions are not in the interests of the 
game. Understanding the ever-fluctuating game state is of vital importance. V.J. 
Rada has demonstrated the issues that interpreting eir contract in the fashion 
suggested would provided, by attempting on multiple occasions to take actions 
conditional on whether or not they are proscribed by this contract. If this were 
effective, it would introduce incredible uncertainty into the game state since 
V.J. Rada clearly wishes not to violate the contract. While in some cases, those 
uncertain actions may be rendered ineffective by other parts of the rules, it does 
not resolve the fundamental problem that uncertainty to no special end is not, 
generally, good for the game.

Consequently, I find that the correct way to interpret this contract is simply 
that it does nothing. Accordingly, CFJ 3587 is FALSE and CFJ 3588 is TRUE.

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