Ethical question why Closed systems is wrong

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by wingman4ever, Feb 12, 2013.

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  1. wingman4ever

    wingman4ever Notebook Consultant

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    Hi,

    I have an asignment from school and I have to look for arguments that proves that Closed Systems are wrong in an ethical way.

    The teacher said that I had to look into Richard Stallman but I couldn't find any strong arguments.

    So the question is what makes Closed Systems Morally wrong. For example IOS from Apple.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

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    Along the lines of whatever the product is, has now become the standard in society and therefore needs to be open for the betterment of society. If a society has adopted a system and uses it for critical and essential functions, one company cannot hold a society 'hostage' with said proprietary product. Even though someone else could design a different widget, uniformity is needed for the sake of all. It is now part of the public domain for the betterment of society.
     
  3. 2.0

    2.0 Former NBR Macro-Mod®

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    It's a presupposition to say what makes a closed system morally wrong. The planet we live on is technically a closed system. Yet, we apply no judgement of morality upon it. So like nature, you could argue that it is neither morally right nor wrong.
     
  4. StormJumper

    StormJumper Notebook Virtuoso

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  5. Vogelbung

    Vogelbung I R Judgemental

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    Obviously the OP doesn't have to agree, it's an exercise - or if it's not, your teacher is a communist and obviously has to be shot.

    Stormjumper's link seems to provide the most abstract points of cherrypicking philosophical and practical reference in order to formulate the core of your assignment.

    Personally I'd look at Youtube lectures by Stallman in terms of getting his take, than look at his documented output.
     
  6. Jarhead

    Jarhead 恋の♡アカサタナ

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    So we're just focused on software, correct?

    First, you should ask yourself, "Do I have a gut-feeling that X is ethically wrong?". I find it odd that your teacher (I'm assuming university or college) is forcing you to give reasons why it's wrong. Yes, you might agree with him/her, but education should foster critical thinking, and not groupthink (which is something that RMS engages in quite a lot, from what I interpret from his writings). Any philosophy teacher worth their salt (or any non-STEM teacher, imo) should allow for healthy debate on a topic.

    I don't see any ethical wrongs associated with closed source (vs open source), practically-speaking. As I see it, one side gets paid to maintain/develop code (yay jobs!) and the other codes for personal reasons (yay freedom! yay free as in beer! etc.). There's nothing wrong with developing an open source program, but yet again why would there be a problem with deriving an income from your work? Forcing every developer to open source could pose problems in unemployment.

    As far as ethics are concerned, there's some possibility that communications software might have listening devices attached to it to relay it to some company or governmental organization. Other than that, I don't see anything wrong with using closed source (or anything inherently right about open source). This guy tries to make the argument that closed source is unethical because it's "unhackable" (but, think for a second: do you have a natural right to know the "source code" of other things in your life, like cars, TVs, aircraft designs, etc?), "agency harm" (why not just keep the closed source software that can open it, and/or convert it to another format?), and “positive network externalities” (which is why MS Office and Windows is so popular at work, for example). As a counter-argument to his last point, typical open source software doesn't come with any support whatsoever, and support is something that a company *definitely* wants when they're buying software or otherwise mass-deploying it. Yes, there are some outliers like Red Hat, but that's the exception more than the norm.

    He does have a valid point about scientific data from the 1960s space program, however.
     
  7. Qing Dao

    Qing Dao Notebook Deity

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    Your assignment is odd, considering closed systems are not morally wrong. I have heard a lot of bashing of iOS, but never that it was immoral.
     
  8. Greg

    Greg Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    The way the question is written makes me wonder if the instructor has a single-minded view against all closed source software.
     
  9. tijo

    tijo Sacred Blame Super Moderator

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    Indeed, closed systems have their pros and cons just like open systems.
     
  10. wingman4ever

    wingman4ever Notebook Consultant

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    I thank you all for your posts!

    I have chosen this subject myself so it has nothing to do with my teacher he is actually very open and kind.
    I haven't thought-out the subject so it's totally my mistake.

    You guys are right there is nothing "Ethically" wrong with Closed Systems because of this:
    If the end user is told that the system is closed before purchase, then you don't even have an argument. There is nothing wrong with it when they know what they're getting into.
    - ILYfp
    So I may just turn it around and argue that Apple has all the right to do so. Although I still hate Apple for forcing people by trying to block Jailbreaking or even not giving the people the ability of fixing their own Macbook.

    My assignment is actually not a real big deal. I just have to have a small discussion with the teacher. No paper needed. But it does improve my mark a little though.

    So what I have now is that Closed Systems in this example IOS have the right to do so because:
    - It was the buyers own choice. They know what they were getting and it must have been stated by Apple somewhere.
    - To protect their "It Just Works" Principle.
    - To protect their company's profit and of course the application-developers profit.

    If there are more I would like to hear them.

    And again thanks for all the replies.
     
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