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Re: One word label for someone who rejects proprietary software

From: C . Cossé
Subject: Re: One word label for someone who rejects proprietary software
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2020 19:02:48 -0800

   On Sat, Feb 15, 2020 at 6:11 PM Roberto Beltran
   <[1]> wrote:

   Thanks Roberto, you did not disappoint :)

   np hahah

   > Moral arguments with respect to software are vaccous.

   What are your reasons for being on this list?

   Free software developer for over 20 years.  Occasional FSF/FSFE paying
   member.  FLOSS advocate since long before the term "FLOSS" (which I
   don't like), circa 2005.

   Why did you do all these things?

   There are plenty of good reasons to develop GLP'd or <other libre lic>
   software without the ethics argument, is my point.

   I agree, I'm wondering what motivates you in particular.

   Exploring ideas and developing better ideas into something more lasting
   than a side-project.  Usually it's a 0:1 proposition, i.e. it doesn't
   exist unless you make it exist.

     I'm not saying I agree with the communist perspective, but I do
     think there are ethical reasons for not producing and for rejecting
     proprietary software.

   Go ahead, explain the ethical reasons, or better, the immorality of
   proprietary software and how libre software is somehow moral.

   So there's three main schools of ethics, deontological,
   consequensialist, and virtue ethics.

   I kind of suck at building out Kant, but for deontological the argument
   might be something like: the user uses his software as a tool to
   further his own ends, if you remove his agency in using his tool for
   your own ends you are using him as mere means breaking the categorical
   imperative, therefore unethical. I don't think that's an empty

   For consequential, I don't really like this perspective but it might be
   true. That goes something like: free software is generally going to
   create more utility than proprietary software, considering how the user
   is mistreated, how vendor lock-in affects whole industries, etc. etc.
   vs profits for the company and the marginal utility of the proprietary
   software vs a free version of the same thing if it already exists,
   therefore proprietary software is unethical. Again, not really a fan of
   this one, but I don't think it's empty.
   I like virtue ethics and I like rolling my own, and I came up with this
   perspective: Really there is something fundamentally human about using
   tools, just like speaking and walking upright. We use tools, adapt them
   to our needs and disseminate them through our community. That's part of
   how we've been so successful as a species, particularly over
   neanderthal. Looking at how we use software as a tool, if we restrict
   users as is done with proprietary software, we are attacking an
   essential part of their humanity, making them pathetic, so we shouldn't
   do that. Also as users, if we are really excellent, we would be able to
   stop others from making us pathetic by rejecting attempts to mistreat
   us in this way.

   These arguments lay all the responsibility at the feet of business,

   Not true, I just built it out like that for the first two. With
   consequential, you could say that using proprietary software in general
   creates less utility than using free software for similar reasons. With
   deontological its a little harder, but it would be about contributing
   to systems which treat people as mere means. That really does take you
   off the deep end though.

   I described the responsibility of users within the perspective I came
   up with. Maybe I just neglected to say that we have an ethical
   imperative to be good people that strive for excellence. There is room
   within my perspective to consider circumstance though, both for the
   software proprietor and the user.

   No matter how you cut it though the developer of the software (doesn't
   matter if it's a business or not) is the one with the agency to make
   the software proprietary or free. They are ultimately the one with the
   ethical decision to make.

   but every android cellphone contract comes with full disclosure of the
   "abuses" that the client will incur, and the client signs-away their
   privacy without coersion.

   People have different levels of privilege in being able to refuse such
   things. Again, I agree users should take some responsibility, but
   putting them in that situation is the prior injustice.

   Philosophy at the level you touch on is borderline religion, and
   religion is beyond-borderline polarizing.  I think moral and ethical
   arguments only serve to alienate, and they are not needed in order to
   advocate for libre software,

   If someone uses some ethical school of thought for action guidance
   (even some of the time) then you'd serve them well showing them how
   free software fits within what they already believe. I agree that some
   kind of rhetoric is generally more effective though. For example,
   having some label that people can self-identify with and feel like
   their a part of a group and the social proof that goes along with that.

   At the same time, people will fight you. If you know the reason you are
   doing something all the way up through metaphysics like all the schools
   ethical thought enable you to do it helps. Again, you still need good

   By the way, I've actually come up with a Christian perspective in
   support of free software too.

   nor do I believe btw that any moral imperitives w.r.t. software even

   I've shown you three ways they do and you haven't even really tried to
   rebut any of them, but you can believe what you'd like of course. I'm
   thinking maybe you just don't like thinking about ethics or politics in
   general, or maybe just with respect to software and that's okay.

   Let me comment on the three perspectives you discuss:
   1.  "the user uses his software as a tool to further his own ends, if
   you remove his agency in using his tool for your own ends ..."  The
   user's own ends are not usually inspection of source code.  If I build
   a game to teach 3 year olds math, and it works for its intended
   purpose, then hooray!  Three year olds (the users) don't need to see
   the source code and the developer is not immoral strictly on account of
   not giving away his intellectual property.
   2. "free software is generally going to create more utility than
   proprietary software, considering how the user is mistreated ...
   therefore proprietary software is unethical."    I don't believe this
   conclusion was sufficiently motivated by your reasoning in this case.
   3.   "Looking at how we use software as a tool, if we restrict users
   ... "  Objection again.  Not disclosing source code to a three year old
   learning a skill via computer is not immoral.  Ethics and morals are
   supposedly universal truths and thus must apply universally, hence my
   attempt to use a limiting case.   Source code has nothing to do with
   the intended purpose of a learning application which purpose is to
   teach addition of small integers, for example.  There are other args
   for releasing code (community review builds trust and confidence), but
   it does not necessarily reduce the effectiveness of the software, nor
   render people "pathetic".

   My only point is that such things exist and are worth considering.
   They're not empty. You don't have to consider them if you don't want
   to. I want a label that will encompass all of us, regardless of why we
   reject proprietary software, what organizations or groups we affiliate
   ourselves with, and what other beliefs we might have.

   - Roberto Beltran





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