This weblog is now being hosted at www.kendyck.com.
Yesterday’s post ended with a question: am I robbing a man if I accept from him what he insists on giving me in exchange or nothing? After a night’s rest, I think I have an answer.
No, I am not robbing him. He has his own motives for giving it away. If I reject what he offers because I think he is robbing himself, I am inposing my moral code on him, and denying him the opportunity live by his own. He has chosen to work for free to his own detriment (as I see it), but his welfare is his own concern, not mine.
If he chooses to offer me his work free-of-charge, the criteria for accepting it should be that of any other transaction: is the value of what he offers worth the price that he is asking? On such a basis, I need only refuse his offer if his work is worthless to me, or I can find more value for my money elsewhere.
So it seems to be alright to use Open Source Software. I can go back to using Vim.
I’ve been giving some thought to whether it is right to use Open Source Software. On the one hand, by using OSS I contribute to an unjust system, where undeserving free-riders can benefit from the work of unrewarded developers. On the other hand, these unrewarded developers — the altruists who create valuable software with no intention of collecting payment for their work — I have to assume are intelligent people. Their decision to work for free, as self-destructive as it seems to me, is one I can only assume they made of their own conscious free will. They must expect some untangible reward for the work they do. So am I robbing a man if I accept from him what he insists on giving me in exchange for nothing?