[linux-elitists] Ethics v. Pragmatics (was: Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?)

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Mon Jan 13 18:11:34 PST 2003

Quoting Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com):

> On the Ethics v. Pragmatic debate, I tend to come down slightly on
> Rick's side of the debate:

I stated no such view.  More on that, below.

>  I use GNU/Linux because it does what I want it to do.  And I expect
>  it to continue doing so.  But I see the two issues as inextricably
>  bound.

Just before I let the matter go, and also just before I examine your
further remarks more seriously, this was the discussion, in
chronological order, paraphrased:

Me:  (Among other points)  If you'd simply rather not run a proprietary
Unix, then Apple-advocacy types who harrangue you about OS X's merits
are missing the point.  You can therefore short-circuit their speeches by
pointing out that they've changed the subject.  Debating Apple's motives
is pure time-wasteage, as it settles nothing of interest.

Andy:  But all that's just dogma, and unresponsive.

Me:  Labelling as "dogma" assumptions you don't happen to share is both 
rude and not very bright.

Evan:  Andy, your calling it dogma shows you lack ethics.

Me:  Excuse me, but people who favour open-source code may be doing so
on grounds having nothing to do with ethics -- and there's absolutely no
reason to assume those who don't are motivated by _lack of ethics_.

Now, I had _not_ stated (in this discussion) my grounds for favouring
open-source code where feasible.  In fact, I hadn't even stated 
_whether_ I so preferred:[1]  My personal views were/are not relevant to
that discussion.  In that sense, you in attributing to me a viewpoint of
pure pragmatism have missed the point just as badly as Evan did.

I made an initial point about logic, and some follow-up ones about

The point of logic is that, if you've said you don't like someone's
favourite OS for fundamental reason [foo] and advocates barrage you with 
advocacy that fails to address fundamental issue [foo] are missing the
point and wasting their time and yours.

The points about rhetoric:

1.  Want to look like a howling loon in public?  Pronouncing that views
    different from your own must be unthinking dogma is about the 
    surest way I know.

2.  But pronouncing the opposition devoid of ethics is a close runner-up.

3.  If you wish to be ineffective and ridiculous in public, few methods 
    are as effective as insisting that others may not be your ally if
    they lack the approved reasons for so doing.

[1] I said that what matters is code and licensing, licensing and code. 
The irony of calling that "dogma" is left as an exercise for the reader.

Cheers,            There are only 10 types of people in this world -- 
Rick Moen          those who understand binary arithmetic and those who don't.

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