Subject: Re: Opportunity lost? Challenge declined!? (LONG. COMPREHENSIVE)
From: kragen@pobox.com
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 15:28:17 -0400 (EDT)

Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com> writes:
> Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
>  > RMS does too.  But he, like Rawls, is interested in "primary goods,"
>  > in particular, freedom.  He is not interested in whether people live
>  > materially more comfortable lives in freedom or in slavery, and no
>  > amount of material wealth can compensate for slavery.
> 
> I'm not going to argue against the idea that an attribute
> (e.g. freedom, or healthcare, or the environment) can be held to be
> priceless.  I'll just note that someone who feels this way can only
> have one such attribute.

Actually, they can have an ordered sequence of them; perhaps nothing
is more important than survival, but only survival is more important
than freedom (but they'd be willing to sacrifice an arbitrarily large
amount of freedom for an arbitrarily small amount of survival).

And each member of the sequence can contain things that are
commensurable; perhaps both freedom and good character are both more
important than any quantity of material goods, but one might be
willing to do things that damage one's character in order to defend
one's freedom in some circumstances, and things that limit one's
freedom in order to improve one's character in others.

Finally, the dividing lines may be fuzzy; for many applications, no
number of 386-25's can outcompute a 1.4GHz Thunderbird, but you could
construct a sequence of machines that could --- ten 386-25's can
outcompute a 486-33 for most problems, ten 486-33's can outcompute a
Pentium-100 for most problems, ten Pentium-100s can outcompute a
Pentium-II 400 for most problems, and ten PII-400s can outcompute a
1.4GHz Thunderbird for most problems.