Wow, thanks for taking the time to write this—it’s really interesting and I 
think you have a lot of valid points. (Side note: interesting to see it from a 
British perspective. My understanding of American law is that we still operate 
under the “precedent is perfect” idea, which may have influenced my thinking in 
this proposal.) I’m still of the opinion is that precedents aren’t a good 
long-term solution, though. One of my early ideas for this was just giving each 
judgment a free Official Proposal (with a SHOULD) to fix the hole, but I think 
I was worried that would lead to a bloated ruleset; maybe that would be a good 
middle ground.

I guess I’m still not sure what the answer is. I don’t like 
non-binding-but-probably-not-going-to-change precedent, but I’m not sure 
codifying everything is better.


(Interesting side note: I don’t think this would work for Agora, but 
BlogNomic’s CfJs are literally just proposals that fix the rules and clean 
stuff up—I guess they just leave the original ambiguity unresolved and fix it 
going forward? It’s a weird concept for me.)

> On Apr 4, 2018, at 9:58 PM, Aris Merchant 
> <> wrote:
> Gaelan, first, thanks for the interesting proposal. I disagree with it
> for several reasons:
> First, there are some minor (fixable) technical problems in the
> proposal itself. An instrument doesn't nessicarily do anything, except
> perhaps alter or create a rule, and even that is kind of uncertain
> because of ambiguities in the phrasing of the relevant rules. You
> really want it to be a textual entity with certain powers.
> Second, there are systemic problems with the idea behind the proposal.
> The first one is the textual expression of the Clarifications. Because
> they need to be self-contained, unlike an annotation, the judge might
> be forced to write a rather long explanatory segment in the
> clarification. This could greatly increase the length of FLR. The
> Rulekeepor would also be unable to make edits to the Clarifications,
> since they would have the force of law.
> Most importantly, I'm concerned that this would limit the development
> of our precedents. Currently, old precedent can be forgotten or
> changed. Judges can easily innovate and rule that longstanding
> precedents are no longer relevant, or need to be revised in light of
> changed practice or context. This law reminds me of the House of
> Lords' ruling in London Tramways Co. v London County Council, where
> they declared previous precedent absolutely binding, even if it
> created "injustice" and "unduly restrict[ed] the proper development of
> the law". They overruled that precedent by fiat in the Practice
> Statement, because they realized that it meant that a bunch of bad and
> outdated rulings stayed around, and that they were generally trying to
> pretend that they were infallible, which they were not. [1] I know
> that we can always pass a proposal to overturn a ruling, but we are
> unlikely to do so most of the time. This stops judges from revising
> past ideas to create new precedent, and in that way takes a lot of the
> fun out of the judicial system. We simply don't have a problem where
> people routinely ignore rulings they disagree with, without seeking a
> new ruling or attempting to change the rules.
> The CFJ is system is an accepted part of the meta-game, where it does
> its job flexibly and well. This proposal formalizes rulings at the
> level of the game, which is something I might be okay with if done
> properly (it has been done in the past). But this formalizes the part
> of the opinions least in need of formalization, their meta-game
> precedential value. The reason we trust our judicial system is,
> paradoxically, that its rulings don't do anything. No one has a reason
> to falsify a ruling, because they know that the ruling relies on the
> acceptance of the players for its implementation. I might favor some
> carefully implemented system of injunctions or judicial orders that
> allowed judges to remedy the short term harm caused by a
> misunderstanding or rule violation, but I cannot approve of an
> iron-clad formalization of the value of precedent that doesn't solve
> an existing problem and creates new ones by limiting the ability of
> judges to change past precedent. I understand (and appreciate) that
> what you're trying to do with this proposal is to formalize something
> that is currently fluffy and non-binding, but there are some aspects
> of the meta-game which work precisely because they are in the
> meta-game, rather than the game itself, and which thus must not be
> formalized. This is one of them.
> However, I agree that their should be some requirement for the
> Rulekeepor to track annotations. What I would suggest instead that
> Rulekeepor, as part of eir weekly duties (monthly if that's more
> convenient), be required to publicly make a statement on any
> annotations submitted to em. E could either reject the proposed
> annotation as unnecessary and explain why, accept it, or (and this may
> not need to be an option other than accept) make changes to it and
> then accept it. Then we could put in place a requirement that the
> Rulekeepor "SHALL make a reasonable attempt to maintain relevant
> judicial annotations in the FLR", or something to that effect. The
> idea would be that the Rulekeepor could drop or edit an annotation
> whenever it seemed appropriate, but could not, say, refuse to put any
> annotations in the FLR.
> Again, thank you for the proposal. It was quite thought provoking.
> -Aris
> [1] My source for all of this is
> On Tue, Apr 3, 2018 at 12:00 AM, Gaelan Steele <> wrote:
>> Proto:
>> A Clarification is a type of instrument that always has 0.1 power. A 
>> clarification may only clarify existing rules, and may not have any 
>> functionality not already provided by a reasonably plausible interpretation 
>> of a rules; any other functionality is INEFFECTIVE. [Maybe: remove this 
>> sentence to avoid crazy meta-CFJs, letting the Moot system handle bad 
>> Clarifications?] The Rulekeepor SHALL include the text of all Clarifications 
>> in the Full Logical Ruleset, and SHOULD list them near relevant rules.
>> When submitting a nontrivial judgment of TRUE, FALSE or PARADOXICAL, a judge 
>> CAN and SHOULD propose the text for one or more Clarifications. Once a 
>> Judgement has been in place for more than seven days without being entered 
>> into Moot, or has been entered into Moot with a result of AFFIRM or FAILED 
>> QUORUM, Clarifications are created with the specified text.
>> Any player may destroy a Clarification Without Objection, and SHOULD do so 
>> if it becomes irrelevant.
>> —
>> This is pretty similar to the annotations we already had on old FLRs, but 
>> given force and a legal requirement for the Rulekeepor to keep track of 
>> them. After this is in effect for a while, it might be worth getting rid of 
>> the current informal precedent system (in the form of a suggestion of how to 
>> judge CFJs).
>> Gaelan

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