Note that this is like the present day legal system. In most situations between two companies, a contract will exist but never be used: because each company can see what a contract says about a decision, the contract will inflect that decision without being run. In some situations a contract is ambiguous, and the legal system will compile and run it. In that case it cannot be known ahead of time what the result will be, otherwise there would be no point in running the legal system over the problem.
It is not possible to know what the king will say without asking the king; the king is only asked for a decision in cases where the answer cannot be known ahead of time. The king is the only source of unknowns in the society. In our world, it is the free market which is the only source of unknowns.
What the Magna Carta did - or rather, what the process that the Magna Carta was part of did - was turn the king into a thing. The thing-king is the king revealed. The important feature of the document isn't the constraints put on the king, but rather the fact that it is possible to bind to the king at all. It's like suddenly leaping above the ocean and realising that the ocean is there at all... and therefore tides! and therefore currents! and therefore the possibility of other bodies of water that aren't this ocean! Or it's like the way that air pollution revealed the atmosphere as something that could have varying parameters over its volume. Once the king is a thing, it is possible to bring the king into society, and constrain and rule him. That was the big deal.
So when I look at the economic imperatives of the free market, and the way the invisible hand is swiping us into situations that are frankly fucked up, I wonder: is it possible to make the free market a thing? Rather than complain about it and make laws about it (which of course won't work, because they're inside a system in which the only source of 'truth' is the free market (and by 'truth' I mean those facts which can't be known without computing them)), is it possible to describe the market to such a degree that the next steps will naturally be to internalise and constrain it?
Posted at 8:07 PM