Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 22 Oct 1999 15:01:56 -0400

   Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 17:16:29 +0000
   From: Crispin Cowan <>

   Ian Lance Taylor wrote:

   > I believe you then said that you do not feel dominated when you use
   > proprietary software, and I think that is when the conversation became
   > completely disconnected.
   > I think Kant's moral imperative suffices to show that if I find some
   > situation unpleasant, I may not put others into that situation.  So
   > that disposes of the ethical side of Richard's argument.

   Intriguing thought.  Did Kant make some allowance for, say, punishing
   criminals?  Is there some allowance for "you reap what you sew"?

Kant's work are widely available in bookstores, along with many
commentaries.  If you want the actual answers, you'll do better to
read him directly.

One phrasing of the moral imperative is ``act such that your action
would become a universal law.''  In other words, whatever choice you
make, act as though everybody in the same situation was required to
make that choice.

It is not very helpful as a guide to practical action.  However, it
does help to clarify the types of decisions that must be made to solve
a moral question.

   If so,
   then perhaps that argument can be extended to those who choose to buy and
   sell closed source software.  Those who choose to buy it get what they
   deserve :-)  This would seem to support RMS's feeling of being dominated,
   while at the same time making it moral to sell closed source software to
   those who voluntarily choose to buy it.

It's an interesting notion, but, offhand, I don't think it's supported
by the moral imperative.  I think you were misled by the way I
mentioned it into thinking that it is something other than what it is.