Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 26 Oct 1999 10:44:52 -0400

   From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
   Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 20:48:52 +0900 (JST)

       Ian> there are more than a few slaves in the world today,
       Ian> and there are more than a few working children, but our
       Ian> community has (presumably) not been destroyed.)

   Community-destroying behavior does not have to result in a destroyed
   community in finite time.  The destruction I am referring to is the
   same as the destruction Richard refers to, I believe:  the destruction 
   of the bonds of community (of ... whatever) that tie two individuals
   together.  "Our community" is an emergent phenomenon derived from
   aggregating lots of such bonds.

OK.  This was a relatively trivial (in fact, parenthetical) side point
to what I was trying to say.  Do you accept my main point that the
very definition of the community is itself an ethically driven choice?

       Ian> My point is that I believe that you are trying to describe
       Ian> your approach in morally neutral terms, but I believe that
       Ian> that is impossible.  Economic arguments are inherently
       Ian> grounded in a particular ethics.

   The arguments are not.  Logic can be computed.  Whether you accept the
   conclusions is.  Or, often enough, the conclusions you accept may
   drive the next version of your ethics.

Perhaps I made a poor choice of words.  By ``economic arguments'' I
meant to include the assumptions which underlie the model which
supports the logic.

   I will grant that economic argument is full of hidden assumptions that
   are loaded with ethical implications.  The reason I prefer this
   phrasing to yours is that it makes it possible, nay, imperative, for
   me to analyze my own ethical beliefs by teasing out those hidden

You can't model everything.  Your very choice of what to model is part
of your assumptions.