Subject: Re: Oversimplifications in HtN
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 31 Aug 1999 23:59:32 -0400

   From: John Cowan <>
   Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 20:44:28 -0400 (EDT)

   Ian Lance Taylor scripsit:

   > Yes, but my reading of your paper is that you are claiming that my
   > primary motivation is the ``reputation-game.''

   I think that this is comparable to saying, in biology, that a
   tree "wants" to grow tall in order to reach the sun.  This does not
   say that an introspective tree would not assign a quite different
   motive.   It is what Dennett calls the third-person viewpoint, or

   I think you can safely read Eric as claiming that hackers behave
   *as if* they were motivated by the reputation game.

If Eric's paper is merely a philosophical exercise, a theoretical
description of motivation, then I'm wasting my time commenting on it.
However, I don't believe Eric intended it to be that, and I know that
at least some readers don't take it as that.  I am assuming that Eric
meant the paper to approximate the truth, from, granted, a
third-person viewpoint.

I think Dennett's stressing of the third-person viewpoint was intended
as an antidote to supporters of (what I consider to be) an extreme
first-person viewpoint, like Nagel.  I don't think that even Dennett
would argue that my personal introspection was irrelevant in an
intellectually abstract area such as how I spend my leisure time.  He
particularly would not consider it to be irrelevant in the context of
a theory, like Eric's, which is itself based on folk psychology.