The Invisible Hand

Russell Nelson nelson at
Sun Sep 30 04:03:59 UTC 2001

Matthew C. Weigel writes:
 > On Fri, 28 Sep 2001, David Johnson wrote:
 > > back about people having their heads in the clouds. The pundits on
 > > both sides have stipulated a choice between morality and pragmatism.
 > I can only disagree with this.  RMS has never said that free software
 > was unpragmatic, or that a pragmatic person would necessarily choose
 > non-free software.  The argument is that, pragmatic *or not*, free
 > software is the answer on social grounds.

No, the argument is that proprietary software is immoral and unethical.

 > The argument of the OSI is that free software is the answer on
 > technical merits.

No, not solely.  Yes, we argue that it is technically superior, but
the main thrust of our argument is that it is a more appropriate
choice for all software producers but those people extracting monopoly
profits from retaining a restrictive copyright.

 > Certainly, there are OSD-compliant licenses which are not free software
 > licenses according to the FSF - accordingly, claiming that pragmatic
 > open source is every bit as free, and social free software is every bit
 > as pragmatic, can not be supported.

There's another possibility: that RMS pulled his objection to the APSL
out of thin air, and that it doesn't have anything to do with free
software.  See, the problem here is that in order to be truthful, you
have to say "free software licenses according to the FSF".  And that
means "what RMS thinks."  I think there is more to "free software"
than what RMS says, particularly when RMS says that "free software"
imposes a requirement to allow users to retain certain specific types
of privacy, but require them to give up other types of privacy.  I've
tried to talk to RMS about this, but he dismisses my objections as

-russ nelson <sig at>
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