Greg Ritter on 29 Jan 2002 11:11:55 -0000

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Re: spoon-discuss: Re: spoon-business: CFJ -- Okay, but...

At 12:15 AM 1/28/2002 -0500, you wrote:

> So it is your opinion that the underlying logic
> of the nomiverse that allows two otherwise contradictory
> rulings to exist is that nowhere does it say that
> judgments have to agree, or have anything to do with
> one another?  Even though they both carry the Force of
> Law?

First, I don't accept the existence of a Nomiverse separate from our own universe, so it is my opinion that there is no separate "underlying logic of the Nomiverse." Nomic rules are not natural laws. I think I already went through this with Uncle P. I don't believe in a discrete, Platonic game-state either. It is all One, grasshopper; there are no shadows.

Second, "force of law" is itself fairly irrelevant. Since it's not defined or referred to anyplace else in the rules, the potential for either a strict or liberal interpretation exists. On the conservative side, one could argue that in the Nomiverse there are no "laws" anyway, only Rules; since no "laws" exist in the Nomiverse, the "force of law" has about as much meaning as the "force of cheese." (If I were one of the Nomic Platonists, I'd be taking that stance.) On the liberal, pragmatist side, even if they were two separate contradictory judgments on the same rule, I see absolutely no problem with two such judgments being in disagreement, any more than I see a problem with a 1998 Supreme Court ruling disagreeing with a 1932 Supreme Court ruling. Different courts interpret the same law differently all the time. I'd make the argument that (minus any rules otherwise regulating it) any Judgment can "overturn" a previous Judgment, by interpreting the previous Judgment to be a mistaken interpretation. That approach works whether you accept "force of law" as being meaningful or not, although actually it works even better if you interpret "force of law" as having some meaning because then a re-interpretation can implicitly take precedence over the original interpretation. E.g. any re-interpretation with the "force of law" can invalidate an earlier interpretation.

Third, the above example is irrelevant to this particular situation (but sort of interesting in the abstract) because it talks about different interpretations of the *same* rule. Even if you assume a strict, traditional interpretation of Force of Law (e.g. as somehow tied to Rule 10), in this case the fact that both judgments carry the Force of Law is irrelevant, because they address *different* rules and situations. *Similar*, but still different. Nowhere is it even implied, never mind enforced by law (or Rules), that Rule XYZ has to be interpreted identically, or even in parallel, to Rule ABC. There is no contradiction. Rule XYZ does not have to be adjudicated by the same standard (Standard Alpha) that Rule ABC is judged (Standard Beta) because they are separate situations. When in a situation governed by Rule XYZ, judge it by Alpha. When in a situation governed by Rule ABC, judge it by Beta. Likewise, there is no requirement that they NOT be judged by the same standard, either. A different set of judges might have adjudicated both Rule ABC and Rule XYZ according to Standard Alpha (or Standard Gamma). Big deal. Not very interesting to me.

What *is* interesting to me is what's really going on here. I believe the Judgments are being rendered based on criteria entirely *outside* the pretend Nomiverse. Basically, imaginary players are a Bad Idea because it unbalances the game and makes everything less fun and more problematic. Note: that's not why imaginary players are invalid according to the rules; that's just why it's a bad idea to allow imaginary players in this game. But (according to some) you're not supposed to offer that up as justification for a judgment because it's outside the Nomiverse, so the Judge performs a little interpretive juggling to make the rules mean what e wants them to mean to make the Judgment consistent with the extra-Nomic desires. That's why we get similar situations adjudicated based on different standards. In fact, *all* Judgments are actually made this way, although in some Judgments it's just a lot more blatantly obvious because the extra-Nomic desires are not in align with the Rules.

This is why game-custom is more important than "game-state" of the "Nomiverse". The game doesn't exist outside of the player's reality, and when the going gets rough, when you get right down to the core values of Nomic Players -- e.g. let's enjoy playing a game together -- they'll toss the Grand Theory Of The Underlying Logic Of The Nomiverse out the window...and then try to put plastic wrap over the window and say, "No, no, of course I didn't break the glass. That's glass, not plastic wrap. Really!" :-) It happens all the time by Players and *especially* by the Administrator. E.g. "I'm tired of copying and pasting!" potentially has a lot more effect on the Nomiverse than the Rules do! :-)

There's nothing that prevents us from playing Nomic *as if* there's a separate Nomicverse governed by the Rules we create, but, in my opinion, that's simply a less enjoyable endeavor (although I'm beginning to deviously consider the potential of using some Players' Platonistic adherence to game-state as an effective strategy for messing with them, mwuhahahahaha!). "Force of law" is just a bit of rhetorical silliness that increases this kind of confusion. The only force that the Rules or Judgments truly have is our acceptance of them . . . or our lack of acceptance of those who disobey them. ;-)