Question: Plea Bargains

Y’all get May’s first question the day it arrived, ’cause it’s an easy one:

So what would Imperial jurisprudence make of the notion of the plea bargain?

Sarcasm, mostly.

The way the more dyspeptic members of the College of Judicature would put it, there are two possible outcomes from a plea bargain as various polities practice it:

The one is that a guilty soph gets away with the due consequents of a lesser charge instead of the appropriate one, which is obviously contrary to all principles of justice and balance.

The other is that an innocent soph is railroaded into compensation, weregeld, and so forth for fear of the consequences of a greater charge if mistakenly found guilty, or by the cost of mounting a defense. Which is even more contrary to all principles of justice and balance, even if they were to accept the notion that this isn’t the actual intent of the system – namely, to provide cheap and quick “justice theater” in lieu of the more challenging task of providing actual justice – which proposal they find risible on its face.

And to sum up, any “justice system” that incorporates the notion has lost all right to be called such without, at the very least, emphatic sneer quotes, and any misbegotten wight proposing such an abomination in their justice system should rightly call down the wrath of Saravoné Herself, descending from the Twilight City in fire and fury to beat aforesaid wight soundly upside the head with Her scales until all the stupid has left the building.

Cough. Readjust monocle.

…so, um, they don’t care for it much?


Sold For Educational Purposes Only

“Be advised that the operation of transmitters or other equipment designed to jam, block, corrupt, or otherwise interfere with communicative signaling in the bands allocated to multipurpose mesh networking (see Electromagnetic Spectrum Global and Regional Allocations, latest edition) is a violation of the Free Communications (Trusteeship) Act (1462), as amended. This Act prohibits, enjoins, and binds by law any sophont from willfully interfering with mesh network communications of any type, proprietorship, format, protocol, or purpose carried out over the aforementioned frequency bands.

“Sophonts and/or coadunations in violation of this act shall and must be subject to the penalties provided for under the Act, including but not limited to fines beginning at one sur-doceciad esteyn and scaling geometrically with volume affected, full compensation of costs for all affected parties, and memetic rehabilitation and reconditioning.

“Be further advised that, inasmuch as multipurpose mesh networking protocols are used to fulfil a variety of essential infrastructural and personal safety functions including but not limited to smart grid coordination, health monitoring, emergency response, road-grid and vehicular coordination, et al., the Actions Willfully Prejudicial to Public Safety Act (710) empowers the Imperial Emergency Management Authority to order the immediate destruction of the aforementioned equipment by whatever means it shall deem necessary in order to maintain these functions. Since the act of operating such equipment is classified as a violation of property rights in spectrum with intent, no compensation is due or will be paid for collateral damage to other properties of the equipment operator.”

– a rather important warning label

A Question Grab-Bag

Clearing the decks on a scale that is large…

So after many back-and-forth sessions involving questions and answers, I’ve gotten the impression that in eldraeic morals and ethics, there’s essentially a continuum with “coercion” at one end, “ideal enlightened self-interest” at the other, and in between a fairly broad space of behavior which, while certainly unpalatable to a large number of people, technically isn’t forbidden as such.

This might be a useful point at which to discuss the difference between ethics and morals in their terms, for which it would be useful to invoke RFC 2119 terminology.

Much like that, it’s a three-level system.

  • There are matters of the fundamental deontology, which are MUSTs and MUST NOTs;
  • There are matters of arêtaic ethics, which are SHOULDs and SHOULD NOTs;
  • And there are matters of morals, which are MAYs and MAY NOTs. (Well, sort of: in the sense that morals are personal and supererogatory rather than essential and obligatory, if you will.)

Such unpalatable behaviors generally fall into the second level.

It’s also rather apparent that the eldrae themselves (and other people like them) probably occupy the extreme high end when it comes to wisdom and foresight with all the technological powers they’ve essentially gifted themselves with. Among those powers comes, essentially, something that would come eerily close to precognition to those not similarly gifted.

With that in mind, a few additional questions:

1. How do those who advocate the principle of non-coercion account for the fact that some people can better predict another’s most likely response to a particular stimulus better than the target themselves can, or have different willpower and self-control reserves?

By and large, on the former, they don’t feel the need to. Your consent is not vitiated by your merely being predictable. (If it was, it’s hard to see how dull people could be interacted with at all.)

On the latter…

2. In particular, what’s the eldraeic take on temptation? Obviously you’re ultimately responsible for your actions and yours alone, but is willfully, continually, and deliberately expose someone to a stimulus for your own ends while knowing that their indulgence may destroy them or end with them in an exploitable position — even if it only comes about “by their own free choice” on the surface according to a technicality — recognized as a form of coercion in and of itself?

…only if it’s a targeted superstimulus, such as something exceeding voluntary persuasion thresholds, or the sort of thing used by a certainty-level persuasive communicator, because those amount to ways and means of rooting your brainz.

Mere weakness of will is a personal defect, not a cause of action. You should work on that, or failing that, go see a psychedesigner and have that fixed.

(After all, you can always walk away. They have the freedom of speech, not the freedom to make people listen to them.)

3. Roughly where does the dividing line between “coercion” and “acceptable-if-pernicious exploitation of another’s flaws and failings” lie?

The bright line is very clear: it’s coercion if it violates the principle of consent, specifically, to quote:

No sophont may act upon the person or property of another, except through the other’s memetically-shared consent, in response to an action-correspondent memetically-shared request.

For legal-ethical purposes, a meme is considered a unit of information expressed through symbols: e.g., writing, speech, farspeech, infographics, Uniglyphics, or other symbols with a broadly published, specific meaning enshrined through law, contract, or long-standing custom, such as the knotted club or spacer’s marlinspike that identifies a brawler’s bar.

Imperial law distinguishes this, thus, from direct or indirect manipulation of another’s mind by mechanisms which do not pass through the cognition, ethical function, and self-awareness of their mind, and thus deprive them of the ability to act accordingly; this constituting choice-theft.

Imperial law further requires that the memetically-shared request correspond accurately to the action consented to, and therefore communicate the request properly to a reasonably informed listener; non-informed consent, in Imperial praxis, is no consent at all. Likewise, implicit consent, based on extrapolations of meaning and/or symbols whose meaning the reasonable person would not be aware of, is not considered valid.

…that sets the limits of MUST NOT. There are any number of things that you SHOULD NOT do that you can still theoretically persuade people to let you do (assuming they weren’t that bright, slept through Bad Ideas 101, ignored their pocket obligator software, and didn’t subscribe to any reputation networks) but this is the limit of MUST NOT.

To finally sum up this line of thought along with related ones raised elsewhere: Ignorance, inattention, uncompensated Dunning-Kreugerism, careful avoidance and/or bypassing of the mechanisms designed to cull bunco artists out of civilized society, et al. et seq. will let people determined to screw you, screw you.

Insofar as people think about this particular issue, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

On the grounds that anyone this careless about their talcoríëf is a walking disaster just waiting to happen any way you slice it, and therefore it’s better that it happens to them sooner rather than later, and consequently, on a larger scale and with more other parties involved.

…oh, one last side-note:

After all, full sanction only truly works against those who depend on others to supply their own essentials — and we are talking about a universe where, even if your support staff up and quits on you because you’re under sanction, you could (with enough resources, fabricators, and knowledge base at your disposal) simply replace them outright with self-forks, greenjacks, and non-sophont automatons that you own outright. And even full sanction amounts to little more than a mutual recognition of the status quo when you’re the one who owns the food, the ore stockpiles, the roads, the utilities, etc.

If being placed under sanction makes annoying, dysfunctional people wrap themselves up into a tiny little autarkic bubble where they can basically live off their existing capital so long as it lasts while playing happy-happy games with themselves and not bothering anyone else…

…that is a win for the social enforcement mechanism. You’ve taken your ball and gone home; hope you enjoy playing with yourself; don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

One: Do the eldrae have any sort of concepts analogous to “pay it forward”? Is stipulating that an obligation can be discharged not by direct compensation, but by instead performing the same or an analogous action for a future (and often unspecified) third-party beneficiary, something they recognize as valid? If so, how common (relatively speaking) are exchanges of this sort in the Imperial / Associated Worlds “contractual ecosystem”?

You can contract that, sure. (Under Imperial law. From aspects of various questions, I get the impression that you think that contract and other law across the Worlds is much more harmonized than it actually is: apart from the basics defined in the Accord on Trade which concentrate on letting different systems interface with each other, they can vary quite radically between polities, and thus choice of law is important. Certainly, a lot of entities from outside the Empire like to specify its law as their choice of law regardless, since it manages to be both flexible in definition and rigorous in application where contractual matters are concerned, but it’s by no means equivalent to a galactic standard.)

It’s considered quite useful, as a self-replicating means of having one’s will done, although the wise contractor will include some sort of appropriate termination condition and a smart-contract monitor, inasmuch as for the former, few things remain relevant indefinitely, and for the latter, one should remember that a party undefined at time of contract cannot enforce said open-ended contract, because they aren’t party to it yet.

I have no idea how common they might be; the contractual ecosystem is a seething mass of arbitrarily many arbitrarily defined types of contracts, so that would be nontrivially quantifiable even if I had a basis to quantify it. There are “some”.

Two: On a semi-related note, how common are (for lack of a better way of putting it) self-replicating contracts? Can a contract stipulate specific terms, conditions, and forms that are encouraged or prohibited when subcontracting part of the obligation out, including a recursive replication of the subcontracting restrictions clause itself? (To keep it short and sweet, can a contract essentially say “All subsidiary contracts made in pursuit of the terms of this contract must be devised according to the same format and with similar stipulations as this one”?)

Sure. That’s basically standard form for things like, say, non-disclosure clauses which you wish to bind not only your contractee but whoever they might contract with in the course of execution also. (Naturally, the more you bind the means, the less appealing your contract is to potential counterparties, but that’s a negotiated-reasonability issue that’s easy for reasonable sophs to work out between themselves.)

I also feel that I may save some time here by stating outright that the default answer to questions of the form “Can a contract…/…as valid?” is Yes for essentially anything that doesn’t directly contravene the Contract (or, by virtue of previous contract, the Charter). Exceptions to this are very rare indeed.

When it comes to saying things that need to be said but that you know the listener isn’t going to want to be hear, is it better to be polite or to be frank — inasmuch as there may be situations where adherence to the formal protocols of politeness may obscure the (real or perceived) urgency of your message?

Be polite. This is for two reasons:

First, the notion that you can’t be polite and frank/urgent at the same time is one of those products of having a tragically inadequate language, that doesn’t have evidentials and attitudinals and other features designed to convey exactly this sort of information.

Second, while not strictly true in a logical sense, it is heuristically true that rudeness is strongly correlated with poor argumentation and outright dark-side epistemology, and as such it is generally accepted throughout the Core Cultural Region that it is rarely worth listening to anyone who cannot comport themselves with appropriate propriety.

Which is not to say that you cannot be cutting, snarky, or indeed Sophisticated As Hell, as well as simply purveying unwanted truths, but the sophisticated part is not optional.

Does Imperial law have anything analogous to our “Son of Sam” laws?

No, principally because there’s never been a need. People who would otherwise be in a position to make money from publicizing their crime are generally either (a) too dead to do so, or (b) not prone to do so because they’ve been through meme rehab. Either way, it’s not been a significant issue.

The eldrae’s perspective on causes of action related to fraud and physical coercion have been expounded on at length, but what about mental and emotional coercion? Does Imperial law have anything analogous to “negligent” and/or “intentional infliction of emotional distress”?

No, for two reasons. The first is that what they might see as legitimate applications of our tort by that name are already covered. To use a couple of examples from Wikipedia’s article, there is “The common law tort of assault did not allow for liability when a threat of battery was not imminent,” a defect which the Imperial law’s tort of assault does not suffer from on at least two different grounds; and “An example of an act which might form the basis for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress would be sending a letter to an individual falsely informing the person that a close family member had been killed in an accident,” something which there is illegal under the tort of falsification of information, and possibly a species of fraud. Other things might fall under, say, defamation, anharmonic indecency, etc., etc.

Those things that aren’t – i.e., don’t have an actual tortuous act at their core – well, they’re fluff. You don’t have a right not to be outraged, and you certainly don’t have a legal remedy for anything that isn’t unquestionably mala in se, not just mala in percipi.

A pair of somewhat related questions pertaining to the eldrae and their Blue and Orange Morality:

One: What would the eldrae think of the “seven deadly sins” and the corresponding “heavenly virtues” if they were introduced to them? Much has been said directly about their takes on pride and greed, and there’s plenty of indirect evidence for their probable takes on lust and sloth, but I’d be interested to see an in-depth treatment.

(I’m also curious as to whether they might actually see certain “opposed” virtue-vice pairs as actually being complementary, not conflicting.)

Well, let’s see. (And in short, obviously, because there would obviously *there* be a lot of written thought about such things, not all in agreement and suitable to ready summarization in a single in-depth blog post.)

First, it is perhaps worth listing the Nine Excellences, which are the closest equivalent to the virtues, although not all that close. These are: Unity (or self-integrity, perhaps); Honor (including within its scope the minor virtues of justice, truth, and clemency); Duty (including the minor virtues of liberality and tenacity); Courage; Harmony (including the minor virtues of beauty, courtesy, refinement, and the appreciation of excellence); Right Action; Liberty; and Dignity (including the minor virtues of pride, propriety, and temperance). There is no equivalent list for the vices; the Antithetical Heresies are manifold, inasmuch as there are always many more ways to be wrong than to be right, and in any case, are mere defects in the virtues. (As we’ve covered previously theologically speaking, evil, or Entropy, rather, has no essence of its own; it’s merely a distortion of a thing’s true essence.)

Second, it’s also worth mentioning a key philosophical note as expounded here: the empowering balance of passion and reason, talcoríëf and valxíjir, and the ideal encapsulated within, that of dispassionately and cold-mindedly choosing a course of action, and then carrying forth that action with absolute passion.

That done, let’s examine the sins in pairs with the virtues, as is often done:

Gluttony and Temperance: Now, temperance is also among the Nine Excellences, but with not quite the same meaning. After all, as the Word of Cinníäs puts it, “Lack is the greatest intemperance.” Ain’t nothing wrong with pleasure: eat, drink, be merry; sate yourself with all the world’s delights. These are the proper rewards of prosperity earned.

Temperance, if you ask the Prince of Wine, is defined as avoiding harming yourself or others (don’t be a mean drunk!), becoming a slave to addiction, or losing the proper joy in your pleasures. Abstemiousness for its own sake or for the sake of some notional “moderation” is pointless.

Greed and Charity: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of [sophontkind].”

– inevitable quotation at this point

Because, well, obviously. Greed and its handmaiden ambition are the spurs from which greatness and achievement in general come. Were it not for greed, desire, and ambition, people would still be living in caves and shitting in the woods. The Empire, great and glorious beyond all greatness and glory, didn’t achieve its current exalted state by modest means through modest ends – it achieved it by the starkly rapacious pursuit of awesomeness.

Or, to put it as one of the more colorful books addressing the topic might:

“What do you get if you disdain greed an’ ambition? Bunch of jackasses sitting around on their planet flippin’ each other off, writin’ smug little tracts about the naturalness of mortality and the moral superiority of poverty, wastin’ perfectly good extropy while the future passes them by. Their home biospheres must be so embarrassed to give rise to such perfect, unadulterated wankers.”

– Fíërí Lariantinos,
author of Fuck Me, Would You Look At These Assholes?
(approximate translation)

Now, sure, greed may inspire some people to wrong actions various, but that’s not greed’s fault, now is it? There is pretty much no notion in the world that can’t inspire wrong actions if misunderstood, and people who turn to theft and fraud and suchlike are not wrong for being greedy, they’re doing greed wrong.

So far as the charity side of things is concerned? Imperials do not approve of charity in the traditional theological sense, inasmuch as that sense implies self-sacrifice (not a popular notion; you can buy things with yourself in their praxis, but it’s an unfortunate and unavoidable necessity to be avoided whenever possible, not a virtue!) and other aspects of Comtean altruism. And, indeed, the nearest local equivalent of the Parable of the Widow’s Mite ends with the lesson that it is unwise to give away that which you need to take care of yourself, and that the eikones do not expect it of you.

On the other hand, you will note liberality listed among the virtues of the Nine Excellences, and indeed, liberality, generosity, and open-handedness are very much considered laudable. On the gripping hand, they are also considered to form very much the complementary pair with greed, since one’s capacity to be generous depends very much on one’s capacity to generate. They are two virtues, therefore, best practiced in conjunction.


tl;dr Rarity is best moral exemplar.

Lust and Chastity: Yay, lust! (See gluttony for pleasure and greed for desire, basically.)

Well, okay. Imperials are also very keen on some aspects of chastity. Discretion, which is the excellences of Dignity and Harmony. Honesty in relationships, as elsewhere. Commitment. The bounds of one’s obligations.

But within the bounds of obligation, commitment, and discretion, it’d be a sad and sorry thing if there weren’t some lust, now wouldn’t it? This is one of those talcoríëf-valxíjir each-in-its-place scenarios.

Sloth and Diligence: Sloth is spiritual Entropy, period. Often, specifically, the Antithetical Heresy of the Deedless Cripple. That’s a terrible, terrible sin indeed.

As far as diligence goes, though, they would say that that doesn’t go far enough. Diligence is merely doing what one ought do. By contrast, the excellence of Right Action implies not only that one should do what one ought do, but one should also strive to do more. Being content to only do what one ought do is itself a minor kind of, well, slothfulness.

Wrath and Patience: The only sinfulness of wrath, an Imperial would say, is that if you haven’t had your neurochemistry properly adjusted, wrath makes you stupid. Typically in ways that cause one to strike the wrong target, cause collateral damage, wander off into evil areas like torturing your enemies to death or harming innocents to hurt them indirectly, and/or get your damnfool self killed.

But once you have cold-mindedly ensured that you have the right target and have done the proper strategic and tactical planning, then go ahead and strike down upon those who attempt to poison and destroy your brothers with great vengeance and furious anger, and other colorful metaphors. It is… appropriate. Empowering one for such unpleasant necessities is what wrath is for.

As for patience: this depends on the aspects involved. They are very keen on those aspects such as “Building a sense of peaceful stability and harmony rather than conflict, hostility, and antagonism; resolving issues and arguments respectfully, as opposed to resorting to anger and fighting,” where possible, as you can see from the Excellences. That’s just good positive-sum sense as well as virtue.

On the other hand, it’s not an absolute virtue. As they’d point out with regard to us specifically, he who turns the other cheek has to put up with a lot of… cheek, and one of our more common tragedy-of-the-commons social failure modes is the way that a lot of bullshit persists because no-one’s willing to call the perpetrators on it.

They also notably prefer the virtue of clemency over that of forgiveness/mercy, because indiscriminate mercy tends to leave a lot of enemies at your back, sharpening knives. Clemency is more discriminating. Also, and they are very clear on this, that means you get a second chance. Key word: a. You do not get an arbitrary series of nth chances, because just as nice is not cognate with weak, kind is not cognate with stupid.

Envy and Kindness: Not a whole lot to say here. They are against envy and pro kindness.

(They would go so far as to say that they’re a lot better at spotting envy, given how much our society reeks of it and even promotes it as virtue under another name, but that’s what one might call an implementation detail.)

Pride and Humility: Ah, yes, pride. Pride is a virtue, on the one hand, because self-awareness is a virtue, and pride is self-awareness of your own awesome. It is a virtue on the other hand, symmetrically, because it creates the ideal version of yourself that you are compelled by it to live up to. Mirror and goad in one.

Hubris, though, is not a virtue, being a way to lie to yourself and to others – but, one should note, it’s never hubris if you can back it up. (Nor is arrogance, per the excellences of Harmony and Dignity, although steering away from unconscious arrogance is a hard, hard task.)

But humility is not a virtue for the precise same reason. It amounts to telling yourself that you aren’t as good as you are – which is also lying to yourself and to others. (And if even you’re accurately humble, it amounts to a claim of “I’m afraid I kinda suck”, to which the universal response of your annoyed colleagues *there* is “Well, stop it!“)

(ObSophontology: This may play better for species with hierarchical instincts where a lack of humility in subordinates may be perceived as a threat to the position of the leader. In eldrae, the reaction is more likely to be that a lack of pride in colleagues may be perceived as a gap in the competence of the group.)

Two: Much has been said about how eldraeic morality looks distinctly alien from human eyes, and how ours would accordingly look deficient in theirs — but is there such a thing as “taking it too far” on the opposite end of the pendulum swing? How would the eldrae criticize those whose particular deviation is not (metaphorically) a famine, but rather a surfeit?

Not deficient. Different, yes, and often plain wrong, but that’s as often because of too much as too little. See temperance above, for example, or the moral weight that many human moral systems place on purity or authority.

As such, that critique is likely to be along the lines of:

“Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses the mean.”

(That was Aristotle in “Nicomachean Ethics”, but it would fit just as well in the mouth of any dozen Imperial ethical philosophers.)

(And on a related note, what’s the typical reaction to those from criticized cultures whose reaction is to take the criticism to heart in such a way that they end up becoming “more eldrae than the eldrae” (in the sense of perhaps-superficial aping of behavior without apparent understanding of the underpinning psychology)?)

“They understand. They do not comprehend.”

(I mean, technically that’s the Heresy of the Thoughtless Churl, but, to steal another quote, “The very young do not always do as they are told.” In this case, it’s childish zeal. They’ll grow up in time and with a good example.)

What is the general attitude towards the idea of the “Socratic gadfly” or the “Devil’s advocate” — those people who advance arguments for controversial and unpopular views and measures less to seriously advocate their implementation, and more to encourage interesting discussion and / or get people to seriously think about why they are committed to the things they believe and espouse?

Annoying, but useful.

(Useful enough that people have devised Socratic questioning-daemons to run on your personal mindware, mark you, but still. Even the Intellectual Integrity Movement can only impress people with Socrates’ utility and get them to respect and listen to him; they can’t make him loved.)

So does the Imperial legal system lean more towards adversarial or inquisitorial procedure?

On the one hand, you’ve mentioned before that every citizen is expected to be able to argue their own case on their own behalf, which may imply an adversarial element. On the other hand, the whole notion that legal judgments should always be based on clearly enumerated principles in a comprehensive legal code as opposed to having the judiciary effectively legislate through case law precedent is very much a civil law idea, and most civil-law judiciaries tend to favor inquisitorial procedure.

This is a case where drawing too-close analogies to Earthly practice is likely to lead one into error, especially as the two concepts are only bound together by historical accident.

To address the latter point first, bear in mind that the comprehensive legal code exists for one reason: namely, you can’t reasonably expect people to follow the law if they don’t know what it is, and that means that there has to be somewhere they can go and look it up.

But the original Imperial Codex of Law was written as a codification of the very-much common law-like codes originally generated during the Ungoverned Era. And more relevantly, while it can be added to by legislation, it is also added to by binding precedent in the traditional case law manner. But, since the ability for people to check what the law is is still necessary, and there’s a limit to how big a precedent search you can expect a layman to perform, every dodecentury a commission goes through the last 144 years worth of case law and transmogrifies it into statute law, such that the Codex remains definitive – and then new precedent starts building up again, and the process repeats.

Which on the whole may be closer to the common-law model, but ain’t exactly it.

As for the former, it hews closer to the inquisitorial model. The justices of a Curial court are empowered to investigate anything they please, and do so once the case has been presented. There is typically an Advocate for Innocence and an Advocate for Guilt, who concentrate on the case from that particular perspective, but both are first and foremost officers of the court, whose primary oath-sworn goal is to find the truth, and never to win the case for my client, as is the case for any other contracted advocates, for that matter. (Forgetting this is a very quick way to end up out of the bar and into the dock.)

So you can think of it as a common-law system with a mostly-inquisitorial procedure for short, but that’s not an entirely accurate picture.

Given the prevalence of space dwellers, sustainable closed habitats, sophisticated in situ resource harvesting techniques, and the quasi-magical Clarkean matter-energy cornucopias underpinning it all, are there any particularly notable groups that effectively make the on-the-go, take-your-home-with-you approach into their way of life? Are there any especially notable large-scale nomadic or itinerant movements, whether in the old sense of communities like the gypsy caravans or Central Asian steppe hordes, or the subculture-sense like the “RV lifestyle” or the traveling hippies whose home is their beat-up VW bus?

There are nomadic space travelers in canon, yes, including some entire species.

Speaking specifically for the eldrae, there are the Traveling Houses, who have embraced the on-the-go lifestyle since the Bronze Age-equivalent with various tech and scale updates as they go, and some of the Variosotec maintain their plains-dwelling nomadic heritage into the modern era, along with some other cultures…

…and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now, because I may/will want to do something with them in the future, and so am not going to spill the details in advance. 🙂

You know, after doing some thinking, it strikes me that, at times, there’s an awful fine line between qalasir and “pernicious irrationality” — fine enough to make me wonder if any outsiders have ever accused the Empire of practicing some form of doublethink by alternately exalting as a fundamental virtue and condemning as a fundamental vice the same thing under two different names.

And, if so, what the Empire’s philosophers and moralists response would look like.

“Category error.”

…approximately. I mean, that’s getting your supergoal drives and your volition dynamics all mixed up with your cognitive methodologies. Comparing whats, muches, and hows. You don’t want to do that. Nothing but confusion will ensure.

(Although there is a slight asymmetry inasmuch as while reason can’t tell you what to want, it can tell you what not to want. And yet.)

This may also be further illuminated by contemplation of the empowering paradox of passion and reason, as discussed above.

A few queries on language:

1. What is the Eldraeic language’s name for itself and its speakers?

The people are elen eldra informally, or el eldaratha more formally. (Which, as is traditional, means “the People”, or literally, “the thinking ones”.) The language, therefore, is el traeldra laranlír (“eldrae-type-of language”, where laranlír ‘s roots could be glossed “song-of-words”.)

2. Is there a central regulating body / “language academy” that mandates proper language use (whether formally or informally), or is the situation more like English where there’s simply a broad consensus with lots of room for variation? (Or, given the free-wheeling “emergent order” attitude the eldrae take to nearly everything else, is is sort of a mix of both?)

A mix of both.

The version published by the Keepers of the Language, themselves part of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, in turn part of the Eupraxic Collegium, is definitive. Of course, since they also train professional logotects, eonymics, and sphragists, it’s also innovative.

This doesn’t prevent unofficial linguistic innovation, of course, but at least it generally keeps it to innovation, and holds the line on meaning-degrading changes and other forms of linguistic entropy. Since, yes, emerging order and the professionals can’t predict all the innovation that is required, the Keepers include several departments whose function is to harvest unofficial linguistic innovations and roll them back into the next release of the canonical language.

3. Are there any particularly strong examples of fixed expressions or collocations in Eldraeic?


(Not really equipped right now to pull some out randomly, but I know there are several seen in various back postings here.)

4. You’ve mentioned elsewhere that the language has a diverse array of honorifics. Are there any particularly common (or otherwise good-to-know, such as when addressing Their Divine Majesties or the local runer) ones beyond daryteir?

Leaving aside titles, a non-native speaker without special requirements probably should be prepared with respectful-address, to-a-professional-in-their-context, to-an-[Excellence|Exquisite|Perfect|Paragon], to-an-[exultant|praetor|runér], from-one-who-demands-by-right, from-one-who-acknowledges-fault, and to-one-whom-one-does-not-know.

If invited to anything out of the ordinary, ask the symposiarch. That’s what they’re there for.

5. Given the heavy focus on logic in constructing the language, how tolerant is Eldraeic of paraconsistent logic? (For that matter, how comfortable are Imperials and the eldrae themselves with paraconsistent logic in the general case?)

The language supports it as another tool in the auxiliary set.

(It’s only a tool, mind. It’s a way of handling lack-of-knowledge problems, since reality itself cannot be inconsistent, only incomplete.

And the general view of things is that multi-valued logics, especially probabilistic and specifically Bayes-descended logics have proven themselves a superior way of dealing with these problems, but there’s no particular objection to it. Unless you assert that it actually reflects reality, at least.)

On the subject of the Equality Concord, we know that they make heavy use of mind-state manipulation and memory redaction. But what level of self-awareness do the members have? Are there any members who are completely non-self-aware?

All the equalitarians are fully sophont. It wouldn’t be nearly as creepifying if it was just one of those bizarre p-zombie cults that crop up from time to time.


“Everyone” is a Dangerous Word

Be informed that the firm of Kanzian, Servessil, and Vagaster is currently seeking applicants for inclusion in the proposed coadunate action elen daryteir v. Tobry Horanuk. Horanuk, a citizen of the Shirethi Guilds currently domiciled in Mer Dinévál, Seranth, in an interview broadcast on the Living Seranth channel’s Hammer and Anvil, attempted to defend the current suit for breach of marital contract in which he is engaged by alleging, of acts of infidelity, that “Everyone does it. I’m no worse than anyone else.”

It is the opinion of Kanzian, Servessil, and Vagaster that this statement is defamatory of daryteir in general, under the precedent of elen daryteir v. Caryad Aid, and should the threshold for commencement be reached, we intend to pursue appropriate remedies including public disavowal of the statement, full compensation for reputational damage, and appropriate punitive fines for willful propagation of falsehood.

The threshold for commencement in this coadunate action is set at one million sophonts. Those who consider themselves defamed or defrauded by Horanuk’s remarks are invited to contact Advocate Imril Septimus Vagaster at Kanzian, Servessil, and Vagaster’s Seranthine office to register their participation in the action.

– posted to the public litigation memeweave, Seranth (Imperial Core)


The Imperial Charter: Section Thirteen

…continued from parts ten, eleven, and twelve.


(Note: this entire section was added by the Eleventh Amendment, passed in 0000 as a response to the steady increase in the power available to individuals, which (with reference to incidents in the few years immediately preceding it) greatly increased the potential harm that an irrational individual could cause if unchecked and undetected, and with reference also to the code of behavior (based on the Eupraxia) coded into the structure of AI operating systems, the eleventh amendment imposed the requirement of a similar eupraxic code on all sophonts within the Empire, and established a body to define it, implement testing for it, and in other ways to care for the avoidance of pernicious irrationality and the promotion of rational thought.  — ed.)

Article I: Charter of the Eupraxic Collegium

Inasmuch as essential prerequisites to the liberties of the citizen-shareholders of the Empire and the prosperity and good order of our civilization are the rational choices of its citizen-shareholders;

And inasmuch as developments in technology have placed greater and greater energies into the hands of the individual sophont; and further, have enabled new technologies of mental editing, desire control, and personality analysis to be developed and used;

And inasmuch as these developments pose a great threat to the liberties, prosperity and good order aforementioned, when wielded by minds unstable or irrational;

We hereby charter and establish the Eupraxic Collegium, for the purpose of monitoring and assuring the rationality and good mental health of the citizen-shareholders of the Empire.

Article II: Purposes of the Eupraxic Collegium

To fulfill the purposes for which it is chartered, the Eupraxic Collegium shall be granted the following powers:

  • To define, maintain, and update standards of rationality, of stability under stress, and a eupraxic code, which shall henceforth be adhered to by all citizen-shareholders of the Empire;
  • To routinely audit and certify the mind of every citizen-shareholder of the Empire, on a regular basis, as executing within such standards of rationality, and as stable under such levels of stress; and to offer such higher levels of certification on the basis of rationality as shall also be defined;
  • To, when under audit the mind of a citizen-shareholder of the Empire shall be found not to execute within such standards of rationality or stability, take such corrective action as shall be necessary to restore said mind to a rational and stable state;
  • To investigate cases and trends of cacopraxia which do not themselves qualify as pernicious irrationalism, and to take such measures as are permissible within the rights outlined in this Charter to advise and guide against them;
  • To produce, maintain, publish and promulgate an ontology and set of social and economic protocols capable of fulfilling the purposes of sophont interaction and the recording of knowledge, while acting to propagate rational thought free from bias and irrational axiom;
  • To research further advancements in the science of clionomy; and to produce projections, extrapolations, and computations therefrom;
  • And to investigate cases of self-reproducing thought-code; toxic memes; and other infectious information capable of propagating irrationality, and to take such action as is necessary to prevent their free propagation.

Article III: Governance of the Eupraxic Collegium

To achieve the above purposes, The Eupraxic Collegium shall be governed by a council of twelve officers, the Clarifiers of the Collegium, each of whom shall be appointed by the Imperial Couple with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall be passed at the highest degree of rationality by the previously existing procedures of the Collegium before their appointment, and who shall be Aspects of the Eldraeic Transcend.

Each Clarifier of the Collegium shall be audited no less often than once in each week to the strictest degree of scrutiny practiced by the Collegium; and should such examination reveal any deviation from the highest degree of rationality, the Clarifier shall be suspended from office until such deviation is corrected.

(The boldface in the article above is another addition by the Twelfth Amendment. — ed.)

Article IV: Rationality of Collegium Officers

Each and every officer of the Eupraxic Collegium shall be audited at such intervals and to such degree of scrutiny as the Clarifiers of the Collegium shall find appropriate for the office to which they have been appointed; and should such examination reveal any deviation below the appointed degree of rationality for that office, the officer shall be suspended from office until such deviation is corrected.

Article V: Responsibility of the Citizen Mentality

Each citizen-shareholder of the Empire is amenable to and accepts the responsibility of permitting the officers of the Eupraxic Collegium, duly appointed to audit the minds of citizen-shareholders, to access their static and dynamic mind-state for the sole purpose of auditing its structure and algorithm to assess the rationality and stability thereof.

Such static mind-states, having been audited, shall be erased forthwith; and an officer of the Eupraxic Collegium, having audited a mind-state, shall redact and erase from their memory all information gained from their study of that mindstate not germane to the assessment of its rationality and stability, specifically including all memory information; and each audited citizen-shareholder of the Empire shall have the right to examine the records confirming that this has been done.


Given under our hands and seals this day, 17th of the Fourth Cycle of Selene, 1,828th Year of the Calendar of Rhoës;






…and we’re done!

The Imperial Charter: Sections Ten, Eleven, and Twelve

…continued from parts eight and nine.


Article I: On Currency

The Empire shall establish a single unit of exchange to use in commerce between the nations of the Empire and with those beyond its borders, and this shall become the base for the coin, currency and values minted by the nations of the Empire, which shall have with it an absolute relation. The Empire shall have the responsibility and the power to protect and control the value of this currency.

A nation of the Empire shall not coin money outside the bounds of this unified system of exchange, nor shall make anything except for currencies of this system legal tender for the payment of debts.

Article II: On the Imperial Revenue

The government of the Empire, and the governments of its constituent nations, to such extent as voluntary contributions and infrastructure usage fees do not suffice, shall be funded by an annual fee in direct proportion to incomes earned, or from whatever other source derived, by citizen-shareholders of the Empire and coadunations chartered therein, levied by an instrumentality of the Imperial Service created for that purpose, and by its citizen-shareholders paid, save that coadunation income passed through to their members shall not be again counted.

Under no circumstances shall this fee exceed a fifth part of the gross income of each citizen-shareholder or coadunation upon whom it is levied.

Article III: On Imperial Disbursements

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Empire, but in consequence of appropriations enacted by the Senate; and the accounts of the Treasury, with a full accounting of receipts and expenditures, shall be available for the public use.

After the first fiscal year of the Empire, the total outlays of the Imperial government for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for the previous fiscal year, unless:

  • such outlays shall exceed receipts by an amount which is covered in its entirety by funds reserved within the treasury, and such outlays are authorized by the hand of the Imperial Couple;
  • or such outlays shall exceed receipts by an amount which would require the sale of Imperial bonds, or other borrowing on the credit of the Empire, and such outlays are authorized by a substantive vote of the Imperial Senate, and by no other means.

Prior to each fiscal year, the Imperial Couple shall propose to the Senate a proposed budget for the Imperial government for that fiscal year, in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts, save as authorized by the above rule.

Article IV: On Disbursements to Constituent Nations

In the first fiscal year of the Empire, the government of the Empire shall retain one-third of the revenues collected for its own use, and the remaining two-thirds of the revenues collected shall be available to the constituent nations of the Empire to draw upon; and each constituent nation of the Empire shall be permitted to draw upon a portion of this two-thirds in due proportion to its population.

In subsequent fiscal years, the budget proposed to the Senate shall set the portion of the revenues collected which the Exchequer shall reserve; and this budget shall also set the formula determining the availability of funds to each demesne of the Empire as it shall see fit, providing only that the formula shall be applied equally to all.

Notwithstanding the above, the Imperial Couple or the Senate may, by special decree, make extraordinary funds available to any demesne of the Empire for such purposes as it shall designate.

Article V: On the Reserve Fund

The Exchequer shall maintain a Reserve Fund against variability in Imperial revenues, by appropriating revenue in excess of disbursements; and increases in budgeted disbursements, both to the Imperial government and to the nations of the Empire, shall only be permitted inasmuch as they are covered threefold by the money available in the Reserve Fund; and the Empire may enter into no contract permitting future increases of disbursements that does not acknowledge this constraint.

Article VI: On Imperial Debt

The base limit on the aggregate debt of the Empire held by the public is hereby set at one million Cestian brights, or their equivalent in the Imperial currency, once established, or a fifth part of the national income, whichever is greater;

And this limit shall not be increased, unless the Senate shall provide by law for such an increase by a substantive vote, and by no other means;

And having been increased, in each following fiscal year the limit on the debt of the Empire shall decrease by such amount of the debt as is repaid, until the current limit shall return to the base limit. The repayment of such extraordinary debt, over a set term not to exceed one hundred and forty four years, shall have priority over all other appropriations and disbursements of the Imperial government.

Article VII: Borrowing by Constituent Nations

Constituent nations of the Empire shall not borrow funds from any source except the Exchequer; and such borrowing from the Exchequer shall require the permission of the Senate.


Article I: Imperial Military Service

For the purpose of defending the territories and the citizens of the Empire, its governance shall maintain a standing military force sufficient to defend each and every territory occupied by citizen-shareholders of the Empire, and, where necessary, to intervene abroad for their defense.

Article II: Organization and Command

The military forces of the Empire shall be organized as part of the Imperial Service, and the Imperial Couple shall command all military forces of the Empire, although this command shall be delegated to the runér in the case of units in garrison; but the first loyalty of all military units shall always be to the Empire.

Article III: Citizen Militia

Additionally, as the common defense is a duty of every citizen-shareholder, the governance of the Empire shall provide militia training to any citizen volunteers who request it, and maintain a stockpile of military weaponry for their use in the event of invasion, insurrection, or subversion.


Article I: Transparency

In order to promote good governance, and to ensure the fulfillment of the responsibilities to the citizen-shareholders of the Empire implicit in the coronargyr that is the basis of the right and authority to govern, the governments of the Empire and its constituent nations shall conduct their work as openly as possible (In the modern era, this has been interpreted to permit the distributed auditing of the governments of the Empire and its constituent nations by all Imperial citizen-shareholders. — ed.).

Article II: Citizen Access

To fulfill this promise of transparency, any citizen-shareholder of the Empire, and any legal coadunation within the Empire, shall have the right of access to the documentation and archives of the government of the Empire; except for those which, for the public safety, must remain held in confidence, or which relate to public order operations currently in progress.

…continued in part thirteen and final.


The Imperial Charter: Sections Eight and Nine

…continued from part seven.


Article I: Functions of the Runér

Each demesne of the Empire shall be governed by a duly appointed runér (Note that since the Empire recognizes multiple forms of government, a runér is not necessarily a singular entity. Letters patent are routinely issued to the offices of diarchies and triumvirs, the occasional ruling council, and even (in rare cases, since most of them manage to appoint a representative for the purposes of the special powers conferred) the occasional Athenian democracy. –ed.), who shall administer the demesne in accordance with their right of coronargyr and the Imperial Mandate held from the Imperial Couple, to achieve the purposes of Imperial government and uphold Imperial law, in accordance with this Charter.

The functions and powers of a runér shall comprise the following:

  • To implement and execute the system of government of their appointed demesne, as defined in its Charter and laws.
  • To supervise the operation of the Imperial Service and command all other Imperial servants and Imperial resources within their appointed demesne.
  • To ensure the enforcement of law within their appointed demesne; to supervise the Curial courts where necessary; and to carry out such formal enquiries as are necessary.
  • To prepare and enact such legislation as is necessary for the proper governance of their appointed demesne, as provided for by its Charter, provided that such neither contradicts the laws of the Empire nor those of a superior demesne.
  • To make such decrees as are necessary to handle circumstances for which no legislation provides.
  • To control the budget of their appointed demesne, to request extraordinary funds and loans when necessary from the Exchequer; and therein to allocate and appropriate funds as necessary for all the functions and operations of its government.
  • To command such armed forces of the Empire as are in garrison within their appointed demesne as necessary for its defense, under the supreme command of the Imperial Couple.

Article II: Assembly

Each demesne of the Empire, of 1,728 citizen-shareholders or more in size, shall select from its citizen-shareholders an assembly, of whichsoever structure and by whichsoever means shall be deemed proper in that place, to offer counsel to and prepare legislation for the runér appointed to that demesne, as the Senate for the Imperial Couple; and with a substantive vote, in accordance with the rules for such applying to the Senate, that assembly shall have the power to veto legislative acts of that runér, where such are carried out on their own authority.

Article III: Fealty

While the first loyalty of all runér shall be to the Empire, as the source and fountainhead of the Imperial Mandate, and the second shall be to the Imperial Couple, by right of coronargyr, fealty and duties beyond these shall be owed by each runér appointed to the superior demesne to that to which they have been appointed; and each runér appointed to a demesne beneath that to which they have been appointed shall owe them this same fealty and duty within the bounds of their loyalty to Empire and Imperial Couple.

Article IV: Praetorate and Exultancy

The Imperial Couple may, to provide due honor and dignities to officials of the Imperial Service, create noble ranks and titles, which shall collectively be known as the Praetorate, and to provide due honor and reward to citizens of the Empire for great merit, create noble ranks and titles, which shall collectively be known as the Exultancy; and those upon whom these titles are bestowed shall possess the right to the precedence, courtesies and honor of their rank, and shall be considered part of the runér darëssef, but shall not possess the Imperial Mandate, nor any of the rights, privileges, or authority to command inherent therein.

Article V: Revocation

The patent and Mandate of a runér, praetor, or exultant may only be revoked by the Curia, upon petition from the Imperial Couple, the Senate, or the assembly of the runér‘s demesne; and the Curia’s own judgment upon the substance of the petition shall be the final determinant.

Article VI: Sacrosanctity

The persons of runér shall be sacrosanct; while they are acting within their right of coronargyr, no authority or forces may be levied against them, save by their superiors, or that their delegated Mandate shall first have been revoked; and having resigned or having been been removed thus from their position, no action in law against them for any action which they shall have undertaken within their Mandated authority shall succeed, save only an action in respect of legislation or action outside the bounds of this Charter.

Article VII: States of Emergency and Martial Law

A runér shall, when a clear and present danger to the public order, the public safety, or the public health shall demand it, have the power to declare a state of emergency for their appointed demesne; and when the normal instrumentalities of government are unable to operate, to place their appointed demesne under martial law; each subject only to vacation by the runér appointed to the superior demesne to that to which they have been appointed, or by the Imperial Couple.

Situations arising during a state of emergency shall not come under judicial jurisdiction until after the emergency has passed; and for such situations as arise during a state of martial law, runér and officers of the Empire shall be responsible, not under civil law, but under military law, for actions performed during said state.

Article VIII: Succession

Inasmuch as the demesnes of the Empire reflect differing forms of government, the succession of each runér shall be set by each demesne in its Charter, as it shall see fit, and the founding nations of the Empire shall retain their existing rules of succession until and unless they shall legislate otherwise; but no runér shall succeed to office without the approval of the Imperial Couple.


Article I: Functions of the Imperial Service

The Empire reserves to itself the power to create as it sees fit instrumentalities to carry out the detailed administration and executive functions of the Empire and enforce the Imperial will. This shall include the power to abolish said ministries as the Empire sees fit. The management of these instrumentalities shall be placed in the hands of Ministers of the Throne, as the office shall require, under the direction of the Imperial Couple, and these instrumentalities shall be known collectively as the Imperial Service.

Article II: Composition of the Imperial Service

The Imperial Service shall be composed of instrumentalities organized in accordance with the areas of executive function of the Imperial government. Each of these instrumentalities shall be headed by a Minister of the Throne, who shall sit upon the Council of the Star and serve at the pleasure of the Imperial Couple. The Imperial Couple may, by legislation, create new instrumentalities of the Imperial Service, and may abolish existing instrumentalities whose existence is not required by this Charter.

At the time of the ratification of this Charter, the Exchequer shall be established as the first instrumentality of the Imperial Service, subject to amendment by acts of the Imperial Couple, and shall carry out all functions of the Imperial Service relating to currency and finance.

Article III: Organization of the Service

For the purpose of performing administrative functions internal to the Imperial Service, including but not limited to appointments, archives, logistics, pay, procurement, promotions, rations, recruitment and technique, the Imperial Service shall maintain its own infrastructure, outside any instrumentality of purpose, and for this purpose, this infrastructure shall be headed by a Secretary-General (This office was de facto combined with the Lord Keeper of the Registry of the Imperial Service early in the reign of Valentia I, and they have remained combined ever since. The title of “Secretary-General of the Imperial Service” is thus effectively extinct. — ed.), who shall serve at the pleasure of the Imperial Couple.

Article IV: Information

Each Minister of the Imperial Service shall provide, upon request and in writing, any information or opinion upon any subject related to their instrumentality which the Imperial Couple shall see fit to request; and each Minister of the Imperial Service being also a liaison between that particular agency and the Senate, shall respond at any time to any questions or other requests for information from the President of the Senate.

Article V: Transfer and Interim

Upon the ratification of this Charter, each of the existing instrumentalities of the Union of Empires, of the Deeping, of Veranthyr, and of the nations of the Silver Crescent shall be transferred in whole to the Imperial Service, and the Imperial Couple shall, by legislation, see to their amalgamation and disposal.

…continued in parts ten, eleven, and twelve.