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

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] OT: Slavery???
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 12:31:37 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1002 (Gnus v5.10.2) XEmacs/21.5 (celeriac, linux)

>>>>> "sjt" == Stephen J Turnbull <address@hidden> writes:

    sjt> Oh, Lord.

    sjt> I concede.  You win.  You have established beyond a
    sjt> reasonable doubt that this thread is not going to go anywhere
    sjt> worth going in less than many thousands of lines.  I
    sjt> apologize for wasting your time.

I apologize for my bad temper.

But it's fish-slap time.

Tom, you must accept that for the purposes of this thread you have no
software engineering expertise advantage over me, because _I will use
yours_.  Proof: you have not described in detail even one of the
"critical problems" you mention in engineering terms.  You saw no
need, and you are correct; there is no need if the importance is
accepted by others in the discussion.

The only problem is communicating "degrees of importance."  While I
can't give a one line proof, it should be plausible to you that the
communication problem can be solved by an interative process

Tom:  It's *this* important.
Steve:  OK.  [compute()]  The social mechanism should be XYZ.
Tom:  No, it's *more* important than that.
Steve:  OK.  [Importance += 100; compute()]  Revised estimate is UVW.

There are no catastrophes in the systems we're discussing; UVW will be
qualitatively similar to XYZ.  (Note: a big problem in economic theory
today is that social reality is _smoother_ than theory predicts.)

The exception to this general principle is if you can say something
like "Software security is not the most important thing; it's the
_only_ important thing."  But it's not; even you want money and play
with language design.  (That's a serious counterexample.  To find an
exception, "only" has to mean _only_.)  So please abandon the idea you
can snow me with your expertise in software engineering; I'll just
erect a chairlift and start renting skis.

But when talking about social structures, you are at a decided
disadvantage in expertise.  I do this for a living.  Agreed, IANAL, so
given legal words my interpretation of what restrictions they actually
impose is unreliable.  But that's no problem.  You and I are talking
about the restrictions in natural language; once we agree what they
should be, we hire a lawyer to implement them in lawyerese.

But my PhD thesis was on construction of abstract mechanisms to
implement given social goals based on hypotheses about human behavior,
and broadly speaking all social policy analysis is of that form.  It
should be plausible that you have to accept my expertise as I accept

If I say that a given rule can be implemented without "fascism," yes,
social science is unreliable compared to software engineering.  But
that does _not_ mean "your opinion is as good as mine".  For example,
I have claimed that the AFPL can be implemented without "fascism".
That may not be true.  One for Tom.  By the same token, I have
conceded that the BKL cannot be enforced against private individuals
without "fascism."  That may also be false.  Don't like that at all,
do you?

Granted, that disadvantage is uncomfortable because you have to trust
that I won't lie to you about what my expertise says.  They call
lawyers "liars for hire", and economists and other social scientists
are mostly no better.  *shrug*  Am I better than that?  Your call.

I also admit that though I don't demand that you change your beliefs,
on present form I think that if you honestly consider what I have
written, you will, in many respects.  I can't blame you for being
uncomfortable with that; I am too.  For example, there's nothing
absurd about a right to software freedom, and it's very attractive to
me.  But my strong intuition is that there is no such thing.  That's
(coincidentally, I hope) comfortable; I fit in with my economist
colleagues, for example.  But it is an intuition, and another one
could come along---for sure I know others hold a different intuition.
If so, it would be an emotional wrench for me.

But on this particular intuition I don't expect you to change, no
matter how powerfully I write.  You see, where nobody has any
advantage is in discussing rights.  That's the domain of intuition
about what is fitting and proper for human beings.  Only prophets of
Yahweh have special authority here, and I don't know where to find one
of those.  Certainly mirrors are no help.  :-(  I'm open to learning
from you: although they can't be proved, intuitions can be
transferred.  I hope you're opening to learning too, although the
signs are so far pretty dismal.

But you're so far unwilling to discuss those intuitions.  Instead, you
insist on refusing to learn anything about topics where I have
expertise, and you have none.  :-(

To sum up, you write:

    tom>   "Linus makes me very angry and I don't like him.  I hope
    tom> others will join me in not liking him because he makes me
    tom> angry.  His making me angry is a good reason for others to
    tom> not like him."

You're being sarcastic, but that's an excellent summary of what I've
learned about your intuitions so far.  :-(

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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