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[liberationtech] Privacy, Moglen, @ioerror, #rp12

Andre Rebentisch arebentisch at
Mon May 14 02:46:33 PDT 2012

Am 14.05.2012 01:31, schrieb Pavol Luptak:
> On Sun, May 13, 2012 at 06:26:20PM -0400, Jacob Appelbaum wrote:
>>> People are greedy, they were and they will. They care about their
>>> self-interest. It's evolutional.
>> This is too one dimensional - people are more than their greed and while
>> everyone has needs and desires, it's an easy reductionist argument to
>> simply say greed is the sole defining attribute of a person.
>> Furthermore, when you discuss greed, it's unclear to me if you only
>> include money or property - do you also include power over other people,
>> even when it comes in direct conflict with wealth?
> OK, I would distinguish between self-interest and greediness. The difference
> between these two terms is that greediness is when your self-interest
> harm other people. So this pure self-interest we can consider to be natural and
> not bad (that's why we are living :-)
> So I mean self-interest in this case. People care about their self-interest
> and being altruistic can be also considered as their self-interest (because
> they are internally satisfied with that).
I recommend you the broad display of actions at Purtill, R., Thinking 
about Ethics, 1976. Actions and motivations are often a blind spot in 
economics. Purtill's collection is simple and mind-blowing. He lists 
cases of personal/social benefit/harm. For instance a person walks in 
his nightgown in the cold attic, starts its lawn mower in order to annoy 
the neighbours. The self-interest argument is a no-brainer here, because 
we would basically attribute it to all actions taking place. A singer 
only sings for his own delight but neighbors enjoy to listen. A person 
does not like to sing at all but cheers an audience up with his singing.

You always risk an intentional fallacy. An example which you could 
attribute to me:
Before chemical fertilizers were invented, Europe and the US imported 
large amounts of Guano from South America. /Guano/ is the excrement of 
seabirds. Guano use in agriculture helped to prevent starvation in the 
Western civilization.
But: Birds do not shit on rocks "in order to" save the Western 
populations from starvation. We do not really have to care about the 
seabirds' intentions when we harvest it from the rocks.

In the same way people could edit Wikipedia or fix bugs for whatever 
personal reasons.

When economics makes assumptions about rational players and 
self-interest, that is a model case. In reality persons take actions for 
whatever irrational personal motivations, and there is no direct 
connection between intentions and effects.

People tend to rationalise natural causes, we saw that when a crazy US 
priest interpreted the Haiti eartquake as a punishment from the Lord for 
Haitian "satanism".
Rationalising nature is the cradle of religion. Taking fruits from the 
soil, mining silver from the Earth. That is felt suspicious by humans. 
Spirits and dwarfs have to be appeased. You sacrifice fruits or flesh to 
your gods.

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