Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 14:36:57 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

    Ian> Again: approximating reality requires making simplifying
    Ian> choices, and those choices have ethical components.

Then we don't disagree on the process.  We make assumptions (==
simplifying choices).  It is the assumptions which have ethical
components.

I simply think that we can disentangle the assumptions with scientific
implications from the purely technical ones (eg, Ben Tilly doesn't see
a practical difference between discontinuous functions and ugly
continuous ones, so he doesn't care if I use continuous ones; he might
want me to use differentiability, absolute continuity, a Lipschitz
condition, or something like that to get better behavior, which is a
scientific assumption), and the purely scientific/technical ones from
the ones with ethical implications,

		   and that it is useful to do so.

Eg, reduce to a logical calculus and have a machine check the logic.

More important, force human beings to deal with real differences of
assumptions, rather than label something "economic analysis, which by
definition abstracts from essential moral content."  RMS has done
this, or at least used phrasing which does nothing to disabuse the
reader of the notion that he does, and you come dangerously close.

    Ian> Fair enough, although I question the phrase ``ruled by
    Ian> economics.''  The fact that I am predictable based on my
    Ian> personal goals does not imply that I am ruled by economics,
    Ian> unless economics can go further and predict which personal
    Ian> goals I have.

OK, OK, economics does not dominate anybody who has personal goals and
acts according to them.  I wish RMS would admit that.  :-)

    Ian> And that I would dispute, unless economics is
    Ian> going to become the science of everything.

Most sociologists, psychologists, lawyers, and business school types
believe that economics does try to be the science of everything, and
they wish it would cut it out and go away.

-- 
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."