Index ← 3825 CFJ 3826 3827 → text
===============================  CFJ 3826  ===============================

      A zombie auction is ongoing.


Caller:                        Aris
Barred:                        G.

Judge:                         R. Lee
Judgement:                     FALSE



Called by Aris:                                   02 Apr 2020 20:53:39
Assigned to R. Lee:                               05 Apr 2020 19:53:57
Judged FALSE by R. Lee:                           06 Apr 2020 00:55:26
Motion to reconsider self-filed:                  06 Apr 2020 12:03:40
Judged FALSE by R. Lee:                           06 Apr 2020 12:03:40


Caller's Evidence:

On Thu, Apr 2, 2020 at 1:52 PM Alexis Hunt wrote:
> On Thu, 2 Apr 2020 at 13:24, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> >
> > On 4/1/2020 9:40 PM, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> > >
> > > On 4/1/2020 2:10 PM, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> > >>
> > >> I bid 347 coins in the current zombie auction.
> > >>
> > >
> > > I withdraw my bid.  I bid 83 coins.
> > >
> >
> > Ugh, actually I'd forgotten how broken auctions are when this happens.
> >
> > I terminate this auction.
> >
> Is this effective? It's not clear to me that "cannot transfer any item" 
> in R2552 means "any item cannot be transferred" or "all items cannot be
> transferred".
> -Alexis

Gratuitous Discussion (G., Falsifian, Alexis):

On 4/2/2020 6:45 PM, Alexis Hunt wrote:
> On 4/2/2020 5:44 PM, James Cook wrote:
>> On 4/2/2020 3:50 PM, Kerim Aydin wrote:
>>> The full phrase in question is "cannot transfer any item included in a
>>> lot" which reads (to me) to say "if there exists a lot for which any
>>> item in it can't be transferred, the termination conditions are
>>> triggered."
>>> Alexis's quoted arguments include the "any item" but leave out the "a
>>> lot", which changes the meaning.  If it read "included in the lots"
>>> rather than "included in a lot" I agree that it would favor the "all
>>> items" interpretation.
>> I don't think I understand your reasoning. To me, the "...included in
>> a lot in that Auction" is clarifying which set of items the rule is
>> referring to, i.e. the set of all items in all lots in the auction. I
>> don't see how it resolves the ambiguity of the word "any".
>> I think disambiguating the meaning of "any" often involves common
>> sense. I'm not sure whether that's what needs to happen here.
> Hmm, but "I can't understand any question" definitely means that none of
> them can be understood. While your second example seems, I agree, to be
> interpretable by common sense, that's not my first scan of it; my first
> scan is pretty strongly that it only applies when the speaker cannot
> understand a single one.
> The fact that I almost wrote "when the speaker cannot understand any
> question" implies pretty strongly to me that "any" after a negated verb
> means "none of them". As contrasted to "If any question cannot be
> understood", where "any" comes before the negation. (cf the relationship
> between quantification and negation).


Judge R. Lee's Arguments:

A zombie auction can be terminated "if the Auction has not ended and the
Auctioneer of that Auction cannot transfer any item included in a lot in
that Auction" (as says rule 2552). In this case, one lot could not be
transferred. The question is whether the auction can end if one lot cannot
be transferred, or only if all of them cannot be transferred. If the former
is true, this CFJ is FALSE as the auctioneer terminated the March zombie
auction after one lot became nontransferrable . If the latter is correct,
this CFJ is TRUE.

The word "any" can mean each. In most legal contexts it does mean each(see
SAS Institute v Iancu). But that only tends to be the case when it is used
with "a singular noun in affirmative contexts" (this is quoting SAS
Institute). In other contexts, any means "one or more selected items in a
group". The sentence at issue here involves a negative context, and in such
context, a legal dictate tends to apply when one or more of the items does
not satisfy a condition, rather than when all of them do not. Let me
provide an example sentence. "The supplier can embargo a certain region if
we cannot receive safety assurances from any country included in the
region". That sentence is basically a mirror of rule 2552, and it's clear
to all that one country failing to provide assurances is enough for the
whole region to be subject to embargo.Or take this sentence "A worker CAN
of a shipment of apples if any apple within it can't be eaten". In that
case, just like this one, one rotten apple spoils the bunch, consistent
with, although not strictly required by, rules of grammar."

Alexis offers a sentence similar to "I can't understand any of your
questions". In this case, any clearly means each, all questions are
incomprehensible to the speaker. That example sentence, though, is much
further away from the rule itself than mine, and mine disproves the rule
offered that "any" after a negated verb always means "each". Instead, I
think, it is purely contextual. But take this sentence "if any item can't
be transferred, the auction can be cancelled". That's just a simplified and
switched up version of the actual rule at issue, but I don't think anyone
can read that at first scan and think that _every_ item must be unable to
be transferred

Alexis offers another sentence, which slightly rephrases my example
sentence about apples, above. Eir sentence reads "A worker CAN dispose of a
shipment if a recipient cannot eat any apple within". I think that the
"cannot" part applies to any single apple. Cannot is the opposite of can
and it is not true that a recipient "can" eat "any" apple within a shipment
if one single apple is, in fact, spoiled. But that's beside the point. I
think in this case "the Auctioneer of that Auction cannot transfer any item
included in a lot in that Auction" is a phrase that is different to "a
recipient cannot eat any apple within the shipment" because in this context
we are _really_ talking about the item itself being nontransferable by law,
although the auctioneer is the actor in this sentence as grammatically
written. Whereas in the apple example we are talking a lot more about
whether any theoretical recipient could actually eat it, which makes your
sentence a very different sentence from "if the apple cannot be eaten". In
this case, I don't think "the auctioneer cannot transfer any lot" is
different to "any lot cannot be transferred".

I have said before in CFJs that we resolve textual arguments not like
robots, but with the reading of reasonable English speakers in mind. I am
not pointed to any grammatical canon which clearly resolves this case.
Indeed, looking at grammatical explanations of the word "any" available to
me, two different meanings seemed to be distinguishable often only by
context. My first reading of the rule 2552 is that one inability to
transfer nixes the whole auction.

But I understand that the first readings of this rule offered by some of my
Agoran colleagues differ from mine. All of us, of course, are reasonable
and fluent English speakers. "Any" can certainly mean "each" or not
depending on a variety of contextual factors. So I conclude that, although
I think my reading of the text is a better (not just plausible one),  I
should briefly turn to the rule 217 factors. Game custom and past CFJs, it
seems to me, are not relevant here. I could find no CFJs reflecting on the
meaning of "any". I did find a rule that said "any player CAN perform the
ritual", which of course is a singular any, but this sentence does not
constitute game custom regarding the construction of ambiguity regarding
the word "any". Common sense is a difficult factor to apply, but as I have
been appointed judge, I simply note once again that my first reading of the
rule, which is a plausible and natural grammatical construction, was that
one nontransferrable lot would nix the auction. Finally, I think that the
best interest of the game is not to have confusing auctions in which
certain lots don't work, as these would be hard to resolve and could create
perverse incentives in the bidding process (like making the most valuable
lot nontransferrable by exploiting current bugs to avoid someone else
getting it).

I would like to note that I hate the rule 217 factors. I think they should
be abolished. And I think that my grammatical arguments are enough to
sustain the judgement. But CFJs are nonbinding in the end, and I add the
argument regarding the best interests of the game in order to convince
people of the validity of this judgement, if they are not sure that my
textual arguments put this case beyond the realm of ambiguity.