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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] OT: Slavery???

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] OT: Slavery???
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 22:20:26 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1002 (Gnus v5.10.2) XEmacs/21.5 (celeriac, linux)

>>>>> "Tom" == Tom Lord <address@hidden> writes:

    Tom> I encourage you to try harder.

Et tu, Brute.

    Tom> I answered the grounds for your criticisms quite directly and
    Tom> well,

First, I was not criticizing.  I'm not asking you to change your
position, I'm asking for an explanation of your position because _I_
don't understand it.  Yes, I hold a different opinion, but I'm only in
this thread still because I want to understand where you're coming
from.  It hardly seems likely that it's all a brain fart, given that
you're the source.

Second, no, you haven't answered directly or well.  Your arguments
from enforcement are indirect and topple immediately for that reason.

Your argument from social responsibility is also indirect, and it
assumes that you have correct (objective!) knowledge about what social
responsibility (and social harm) is.  I've never seen you try to
explain what you mean by those concepts, let alone show that your
ideas are any good at all.  So I can't evaluate it, except by its use.

Which mostly pure defamation ("poster child for socially irresponsible
engineering"); I don't think I've ever seen you draw attention to "an
excellent example of socially responsible engineering."  It's not like
you don't know how to compliment, either; I think you praise others
more often than any other programmer I know.  Gotta wonder about this

    Tom> to which you replied:

    > yada yada yada :-( 

    Tom> and in the rest of your reply, made no further mention of
    Tom> those same criticisms.

Since you insist: they're completely fallacious.  In one case,
referring to the FSF philosophy page as an authority, you apparently
misjudged my knowledge, which happens.  But all of the explicit
arguments you make are weak straw men, and all have the same flaw.

They are extremist in an objective (but limited) sense: you wish to
prohibit _all_ free individuals from engaging in _any_ of an entire
class of behaviors.  You do not demonstrate any harm from the
behaviors themselves.  Your arguments depend entirely on the harm that
_might_ proceed from various enforcement mechanisms.  That makes my
task rather easy: all I have to do is either (1) present a non-harmful
enforcement method or (2) allow the contract to go unenforced, and
your argument is completely refuted.  On to the counterexamples!

Example: You say that you have a direct interest in my private
contract because it will be enforced by the state, which you support
with your taxes, etc.  Nonsense.  My contract is under Japanese law;
do you pay taxes here?

Example: You say enforcement leads to "fascism."  Nonsense.  True, the
"nyaah, nyaah, nyaah" argument combined with the right to privacy
makes it impossible (at first glance, anyway) to prevent copying and
modification without "fascism", but there's nothing "fascist" about
enforcing a voluntary contract that says "I won't advertise copies for
sale."  Or, if we accept rms as an authority on the boundary of
privacy, then a contract which imposes conditions on redistribution
between individuals is legitimate; the GPL does that.

It's even possible to contract to allow restricted audits, which would
be "fascist" if arbitrarily imposed from outside, of course.

Can we stop arguing and losing, and start discussing and winning, yet?

    Tom> Should I be reading "yadda yadda yadda" as if it said "Yes,
    Tom> you are right, mine was not a valid criticism"?

No, it means "same old same old, nothing new here, no need to respond."

    > By the time you got to "outrage," you were once again so
    > emotional as to forget to explain why.  I still don't get it.

    Tom> I forgot to explain?

Just guessing.  Deliberate evasion is not your way, and more permanent
mental incapacity seems unlikely.  So, why didn't you explain directly
why there is a right to software freedom, which is inalienable and
therefore universally overrides the right to contract over software?

    Tom> I pointed to a wealth of arguments at,

OK, that's fair.  You're welcome to consider them explanation.  I

  * Much of it assumes the result ("existence of a right to software
    freedom"), directly, or in the circular way I've pointed out.

  * In the rest, the "evidence" adduced is phrased in terms like "this
    [voluntary contract] is a relationship of subjugation" with no
    explanation whatsoever for the obvious contradiction between the
    dictionary definition of subjugation and the voluntariness of the
    contract.  "Two movements divided by a common language."

If you didn't realize I have long since read everything I could find
at the FSF, and much of what it points to offsite, multiple times, and
found them lacking for present purposes, you now know that.  You are
of course under no obligation whatsoever to go beyond them, but citing
them doesn't contribute to my understanding (which we agree is
lacking, although we differ as to how), unless you can point out where
I've overlooked something.

If you want to bring relevant quotations directly into the discussion,
I would respond to them.  Perhaps even by adjusting my views!  Maybe
I've overlooked a crucial essay.  Maybe I've forgotten one or more
killer arguments.  Maybe I misunderstood the last time I looked; I do
that occasionally, especially with Stallman's words.  Bring 'em on.

    Tom> endorsed Andrew's "natural rights" argument,

I don't think you did, actually, because (1) Andrew doesn't claim that
argument (he explicitly says "rights don't exist"), and (2) Andrew is
citing anarchists, and you are definitely not an anarchist.  (Under
anarchy, DRM and other forms of information hoarding are legitimate by
definition.  Andrew will probably proceed to point out that anybody
smart enough to be an anarchist will realize that information hoarding
is _stupid_ :-), but that's different from _illegitimate_.)

In any case, your explicit explanation of what that argument is, is
completely different from a natural rights argument.  Your argument
proceeds from another right (privacy == "no fascism"), rather than
directly from the nature of human beings.  It's indirect, and false.

    Tom> and outlined some arguments proceeding from the idea that
    Tom> there is objectively such a thing as "socially responsible
    Tom> engineering".

The objective existence of "Tom's opinion as to what is socially
responsible engineering" is not disputed.  But I and more illustrious
folks like Bill Gates, Larry McVoy, Linus Torvalds, Eric S. Raymond,
Russell Nelson, Michael Tiemann, and Bruce Perens hold varied opinions
that range from diametrically opposed to nearly coincident.

I've seen you make several statements that a given person is "socially
irresponsible".  I've seen you make a few statements that a particular
practice (sometimes simply "distributing software under proprietary
terms") is "socially irresponsible."  I've never seen you describe
what body of practices you consider "socially responsible

This uncertainty of the premise that "an objective notion of socially
responsible engineering exists" is bad enough, but what's worse is
that there is no visible connection from the behavior of Linus to
responsibility, unless you accept the postulate that use of non-free
software is irresponsible a priori.  That's exactly what I've asked
you to explain!

Community divisions?  Get that sequoia out of your eye, man.  The fact
is that Linus is _not in agreement_ with you on this point, never was,
and I suppose will never be.  Linus will continue to choose non-free
software whenever it suits him pragmatically.  He's never made a
secret of that.  His adoption of Bitkeeper in no way reflects any
change in his fundamental beliefs.  Nor does Linus reject those with
other beliefs; from his point of view you're welcome to coexist.

So if there's a division in the community, it's not Linus's doing.
The cause is entirely the participation of intolerant individuals in
Linux kernel development, knowing (or they should have) that this day
would surely come.  If Linus is "socially irresponsible", what about
those true "believers in software freedom" who have followed his lead
all these years?

    Tom> Why you would call any of those arguments "emotional" is
    Tom> something I can only imagine.

Granted, an appeal to an authoritative body of written work is not
emotional.  One for Tom.  But ... but ... but:

A prediction of _fascism_ is "not emotional"?  Has Godwin's Law been

Calling a respected leader in the community a "poster child for
irresponsibility" with _no discussion_ whatsoever is "not emotional"?

Accusing others of being responsible for division in the community is
"not emotional"?

What _would_ you call "emotional"?

    > When the strongest direct argument you can come up with for your right
    > to copy is "Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah, you can't stop me",

    Tom> I did indeed endorse the "natural rights argument" which
    Tom> seems to be what you refer to.  The argument is not simply
    Tom> "you can't stop me from copying software": it's a bit more
    Tom> sophisticated than that.  The argument is that to make
    Tom> prohibition of copying _enforcable_ by the excutive and
    Tom> judiciary, one would have to create an unreasonably intrusive
    Tom> state ("a facist state" in traditional hacker speak).  I do
    Tom> think it outrageous if you want to do business in a way that
    Tom> will require facism to enforce your contracts.

The argument-via-"fascism" is not the same as the natural rights
argument.  The argument-via-"fascism" is wrong, as we see above,
because it gets the logical quantifiers wrong.  As a corollary, this
demonstrates that argument-via-"fascism" != natural rights argument,
because the latter gets the quantifiers right.  (I don't agree with
it, but it is logically sound as far as that goes.)

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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