[linux-elitists] Re: GNOME > you

Lance Simmons lance@lsimmons.net
Tue Jan 6 09:22:49 PST 2004

* Chip Salzenberg <chip@pobox.com> [040106 10:27]:
> Altruism of motive and value of product are totally orthogonal.  Why
> should we respect someone for producing something of little value?

I don't think Jeff's point was about altruism.

I understood Jeff's comments to have background assumptions along the
following lines, though this may not at all be what he was assuming, and
he can surely speak for himself:

1.  Respect is due to persons simply because they are free, rational
beings.  Persons simply as such have dignity and hence deserve respect.
Respecting another person is _not_ an altruistic act.  Every person
_deserves_ respect, whatever they do.  We respect a criminal's dignity
as a free, rational being by punishing him, for example.

2.  Some actions respect other persons and some actions don't.  We honor
those who perform actions that respect others, just as we punish those
who perform acts that disrespect others (in the precise sense of
"respect" I've been talking about).  Every action that treats others as
having dignity is admirable, and when people perform these kinds of
actions, they deserve to be honored.  (Honor is not the same as respect.
Honoring a person who deserves it respects that person, but honoring a
person who doesn't deserve does not respect that person.)

3.  Writing free software is an act that respects others as free and
rational persons.

4.  Hence, those who write free software deserve not only the respect
due all persons, but also the honor due those who treat others with

Again, I don't know whether Jeff had this view in mind, but it's a very
widely held view of the way respect and honor work, and what I've seen
of his posts leads me to think it's one he'd be attracted to.

My own view is that this view of respect and honor is at best partially
correct and is in any case inadequate to provide a basis for human
beings to live together, but, as I say, it is very widely held by many
people, many of whom I respect.

Lance Simmons
If philosophy generated no new problems it would be dead, because it would be
finished.  And if it recurrently regenerated the same old problems it would not
be alive, because it could never begin. So those who still look to philosophy
for their bread and butter should pray that the supply of new problems never
dries up.
		-- Paul Grice
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