Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 18:09:53 +0000

Richard Stallman wrote:
>     This is extremely unfair to people like myself who practice
>     neoclassical economics for its scientific rigor and explanatory power
> Economics can at best explain the behavior of people that are
> motivated mainly by the kinds of concerns that economics deals with.
> To model any activity economicaly is to assert that the people
> involved do not care much about non-economic concerns.

Economics is certainly taking a beating here.

I'm going to jump in on Stephen's side of the debate.  Economics can
explain behavior of people when that behavior is based on rational
preferences.  The preferences don't have to be monetary, though they
often are, at least in part.  

Where motivations are rational, but non-monetary, economics needs to
identify, and hopefully quantify, these motivators.  Where economic
analysis doesn't do this, it's no longer analysis, it's fantasizing.
> Economics spreads defeatism for every cause that asks people to care
> about a non-economic concern.  Some such causes succeed anyway, but
> economics makes it harder.

It's not called the dismal science for nothing.  But this isn't the

I think this thread has done much to show who does and doesn't like, or
understand, economics.  Frankly the tenor is much like that of
newsgroups were partially- (or un-) informed critics rail against the
GNU GPL for entirely irrelevant or false reasons.

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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