Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 12:41:37 -0700 (MST)

	rms> Whether *other* people hold this moral position could be a
	rms> parameter.  Simply by proposing to make decisions based on an
	rms> economic model, you are making an assumption about what is
	rms> and is not important, and you ask the reader to share it.

    No.  The whole point of making an economic model is allowing the model
    to take account of the desirability of participants in society making
    the decision about what is important for themselves.

I think we are failing to communicate, since you start with "no", but
the following details seem to agree with what I said: the model
includes parameters describing what people in society do value.  I
called these "other people" because they are *other than the reader of
your article*.

This set of parameters might divide the other people into categories,
it might give distributions, it might even refer specially to some
specific notable individuals as you say.  That would relate to one of
the side-issues I raised.

But I'm calling attention to a different question: not "What do people
in society value?" (however finally gradated or carefully analyzed),
but "What should I value?"  A question the reader would, I hope, ask

That latter question is not, I believe, the one you seek to address.
But your article will convey some message about it implicitly--it
cannot help doing so.  Just what that message will be will depend on
what the article actually says; but it seems likely that a paper
described as "economic" will encourage people to (without conscious
consideration) adopt more "practical" values, values that they
associate with the word "economic".  Especially if that is what the
author in fact values; the author's views would tend to come through
in various implicit ways.

So the article could discourage people from thinking about their
values.  That would be detrimental to the success of free software.

However, it is possible that including in the model different
categories of people, with different values, could have the opposite
effect.  Talking about different possibilities for what people may
value could encourage the reader to look seriously at the question of
per own values.  That would be a good thing.

If the article discusses various alternative worlds with different
proportions of people valuing this or that, they might help reinforce
for the reader that one's values are not fixed, they are something
one can think about.

This, for me, is the main point about the article, the point that
seems most important to me.