The Invisible Hand
david at usermode.org
Sat Sep 29 01:16:23 UTC 2001
For years the Free Software community emphasized freedom. When the Open
Source Initiative started, it emphasized pragmatism instead. One side accuses
the other of abandoning morality, and the other counters back about people
having their heads in the clouds. The pundits on both sides have stipulated a
choice between morality and pragmatism. If you wanted to be moral you sided
with the FSF, and if you wanted to be practical you sided with the OSI.
But there is an "invisible hand" at work here that makes this distinction
meaningless. In his "Wealth of Nations", Adam Smith observed a phenomena he
called the invisible hand. The phenomena is that the actions of selfish
individuals interact to create altruistic results for the group. In economic
terms, immoral grocers feed poor families just as much as moral grocers do.
In software licensing terms, the pragmatic developers release software every
bit as free as the moral developers. And the moral developers release
software that is as practical as the pragmatic developers release. There is
no point in condemning one side as being cold-hearted, or the other as overly
idealistic. The end result for the users is the same.
Practicality leads to moral results, and morality leads to practical results.
Open Source is free and Free Software is open. There is no need to divide
this community up into factions.
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