Do Ethics Matter? (Re: [linux-elitists] Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?)

Mister Bad mr.bad@pigdog.org
Sat Jan 11 11:55:36 PST 2003


>>>>> "RM" == Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> writes:

    Me> People who have them call 'em "ethics". People who don't call
    Me> it "dogma."

    RM> Er, Evan, I hope you don't mind my saying this, but I get a
    RM> little antsy when people immediately resort to gratuitous
    RM> moralism in these debates: I see no reason to attribute lack
    RM> of ethics to those who (mistakenly) label as "dogma" any
    RM> preference for open-source.  It's purblind and rude, yes; but
    RM> hardly unethical.

Well, I'll say right now: I don't think the moralism is
gratuitous. It's patently ridiculous to write morals out of the
equation entirely. Something important in public debate dies when the
idea of an ethical response to a situation is considered illogical and
distasteful.

    RM> Furthermore, a preference for open source, where feasible,
    RM> need not be rooted in "ethics" at all.

Well, to parse words for a moment: in a narrow sense of the word
"ethics", yes. In the broader, original sense -- which defines ethics
as the study of how we should live and act -- ethics informs
everything we do, all the time.

    RM> [...] a perfectly rational pragmatic response to decades of
    RM> seeing one's IT agenda jerked around by third-party
    RM> proprietary software publishers, resulting in uncontrolled
    RM> business risk.

There's principles in this, too, of course. The principle of doing
what's right for your company, the principle of maintaining
independence, the principle of fool-me-twice. They're just such
ubiquitous principles that we tend not to even see them as such.

    RM> I'm sure there are various other reasons, as well.  But it
    RM> honestly should suffice to point out that calling it "dogma"
    RM> is just genteel name-calling from someone who found that
    RM> putdown to be easier than thinking.

Umm, so, as far as I can tell, I think we agree on this point. 

~Mr. Bad

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