Questions: On the Fundamental Contract

[Regarding this] So what happens in those cases where a soph finds that their qalasír demands them to do something that goes against the Fundamental Contract? (More specifically, what’s the moral obligation in those cases where their only possible choices are “Commit an unspeakably heinous crime” and “Repudiate your entire reason for being,” with no middle ground or “third option” conveniently available — and they’re morally aware enough to know that it’s a serious problem?)

Well, if you find yourself in that situation, then you’ve got yourself a difficult problem to solve. The kind of problem that’s likely to end with a corpse of you.

(Civilization as a whole would prefer that it reached that end through your honorable suicide, belike.)

For what it’s worth as a consolation, future composers of tragic operas will consider your story excellent source material.

(From a comment here) Which leads me to a question that’s a little tangential to the original post, but in one form or another has been haunting the back of my mind for a while: Would a contract where one party waives their rights under the Fundamental Contract as part of their contract obligations — and does so voluntarily, and not through fraud, duress or coercion — in lieu of the other party’s discretion be considered a valid contract? (For the moment, let’s ignore whether it would be moral to draw up such a contract in the first place and assume that the relationship is already a fait accompli.)

Or, to put it another way: Can a mentally and morally competent soph willfully choose to surrender their right to choose?

Legally, yes –

(Except that you’re really not, because those rights protect you from things done against your consent, and so contracting them away is isomorphic to giving your consent, so. You can’t give consent for something to be done without your consent, because the Law of Non-Contradiction will come and both slap the stupid out of you and not slap the stupid out of you.)

– that’s how such things as indentures and the Declaration of Situational Mental Incompetence and even some parts of the Imperial Charter work, for example – but with certain provisos; primarily, that as with contract law in general, one must have the legal capacity to contract to make one in the first place, and one of the things that impairs said capacity is everything included in the category of “being bugfuck crazy”.

(Now, it’s not like they’re going to pull an unconscionability doctrine out of thin air and decide that no-one could possibly have intended to sign any contract like X – rational sophonts are expected to grow a quad and pay attention – since even selling yourself into lifelong slavery, excuse me, perpetual uncompensated indenture [distinguished inasmuch as you can’t sell a property right in yourself because you’d have to alienate yourself from yourself to do so, and you can’t] may be less a case of “being bugfuck crazy” and more a case of “being bloody stupid”, from which latter the law does not protect you. Although, in fairness, the former is rather more likely.

But it does give probable cause for the Guardians of Our Harmony to run their checks to make sure that you are not, in fact, bugfuck crazy, and invalidate the contract if it turns out that you are.)

((This probably does not get you entirely off the hook, as such a judgment – while much more likely to save your ass *there* than *here*, due to a rather broader definition of what constitutes unacceptable irrationality – is also going to lose you your tort insurance and demote your legal standing right back to minor-equivalency. Which will suck.))

 

Trope-a-Day: Happiness in Slavery

Happiness in Slavery: Played with – Imperial law, despite the extreme cultural aversion to slavery, does permit voluntarily contracted indenture as a way to get out from under unrepayable debts without resorting to bankruptcy, and suchlike.  It’s not exactly happy – indeed, by local standards, it is ridiculously humiliating – but it’s probably better than most of the alternatives; and most cultural Imperials would see it as infinitely better than default.

(The kicker: with the exception of not being able to quit until the contract term is up, we would find the ghastly state and working conditions of what the Empire calls “indenture” very familiar indeed.  We call it employment.)

Averted pretty comprehensively with actual slaves in the darker and more hideously backward parts of the Worlds, though.

All Debts Must Be Paid

Baríël Andracanth-ith-Brianth to Ven Mak Lochh, greetings.

I checked into your son’s case, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s as I thought. There’s no “slavery” involved. He signed up to a debt indenture.

Which is to say, to cover the details so far as my inquisitive could root them out, he developed a taste for the high life, and blew through his traveling funds in a matter of weeks. Then he took out a line of credit, and went through most of that, then invested the rest in high-risk stocks, lost it, took out another to cover the fees and margin calls, went high-stakes gambling with the rest, and lost that, too. At which point Baranithil Mutual filed suit over nonrepayment of those credit lines.

He settled by offering them an indenture. I presume because he didn’t have the money, and didn’t think you’d send him the money; or maybe he thought that you could get him out of it. Anyway, I’ve seen the contract and the signing record, and it’s all perfectly legal.

He may not be enjoying his new career as a fungus-farm mucker-drone, but whatever he may tell you, it’s not like he’s being worked to death, or beaten, or some such. He’s just doing crappy sub-robot work because he’s frankly unqualified to do anything else. He’s not even being denied access to communications, as you know, and speaking of that, you should probably tell him to lay off the goldbricking and trying to run out, because if he keeps running up nonperformance and skip-trace fees at his current rate, he’s going to be stuck down there a lot longer than 126 months.

Or you could contact Baranithil Mutual and pay them the Es. 103,680 to buy out his contract. For myself, though, I suggest you leave the young idiot where he is. What sort of damn fool doesn’t know not to run up bad debts on Seranth?

– Baríël