Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 10:37:51 -0400


> >>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <Ben_Tilly@trepp.com> writes:
>
>     Ben> Stephen Turnbull writes:
>
>     >> OK, OK, economics does not dominate anybody who has personal
>     >> goals and acts according to them.  I wish RMS would admit that.
>     >> :-)
>
>     Ben> But en masse?  I think that economic factors help shape
>     Ben> public concepts of ethics.
>
> I think that this is an abuse of the word "ethics".  The dependency
> should be the other way around.  Individuals may have a concept of
> ethics that incorporates economic tradeoffs; changes in economic
> factors should change the ethical decisions they make where those
> economic tradeoffs are admissible in decision-making.  (They often are
> not; I think we all agree on slavery, eg.  RMS would go further and
> argue that no economic benefit to proprietary software could make it
> ethical.  Etc.)

Ironically slavery is the example that I think shows it best!

Why during the 1800's did people move from accepting slavery
to thinking it immoral?

Why was the timing and strength of this shift in moral sensibilities
correlated with geographical location?  Why do historians like to
point at Eli Whitney's invention cotton gin as a pivotal factor?

Note, I am not describing merely a change in conclusions.  I am
describing a fundamental shift in what people base their moral
conclusions on.  And this shift is accepted by historians as
something driven by economic factors and not the other way
around.

Do you still think that I am abusing the word "ethics"?

Cheers,
Ben