"Microsoft isn't a person, it's a company!"
Posted Jul 21, 2006 15:39 UTC (Fri) by kmw
In reply to: "Microsoft isn't a person, it's a company!"
Parent article: Free Software Sets the Computing Agenda
Your argument rests on the false assumption that intellectual property,
copyrights, trademarks, and patents are mere legal constructs.
They are not.
They are objective moral principles--rights inherent to all creations
which individuals are obligated to obey whether they are enshrined in law
or not. No entity should be required to waive certain of its rights in
order to prevent other rights from being trampled upon.
Furthermore, rights are not something that can be "granted" or "revoked",
as you seem to imply. When talking about rights, the proper question is
NEVER "Should X have right Y?" but rather "DOES X have right Y?". The
existence of rights is due not to government fiat, but rather to the mere
fact of the agent's existence.
Furthermore, your characterization of the supposedly inflated end-user
prices caused by Microsoft's OEM agreements as a "tax" is fallacious on
two levels. First, selling prices are metaphysically independent from
costs of production. Prices are determined by utility, supply, and
demand--period. If hardware with Microsoft products installed does indeed
tend to have a higher selling price than equivalent hardware without, that
is better explained by the increased utility and demand for the products
rather than the additional costs incurred by the OEM.
Second, your understanding of what a "tax" is is completely wrong. A tax
is collected at gunpoint, whether you wish to deal with the collecting
organization or not. If you refuse to deal with the government, it
threatens to take from you what you already have. If you refuse to deal
with Microsoft, all it can do is refuse to provide you with a benefit you
do not yet have.
Your assertion that Microsoft does not exist in a moral sphere is also
absurd. EVERY action has a moral component--and, as the eminent
20th-century Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand proved, the honest and
noncoercive pursuit of private profit is one of, if not the, most virtuous
act one can engage in. Money is inherently a moral issue; read Francisco
d'Anconia's "Money Speech" in Atlas Shrugged for a better understanding.
Finally, obedience to the law is not a virtue in its own sake. There is
never any moral obligation to obey an illegitimate law--and one is morally
obligated to abide by the dictates of a legitimate law even if it is not
enshrined as such. The difference between the two is based solely on
substance, not on how they got on the books--just as the difference
between a legitimate and illegitimate government is based on what it does,
not how it got into power. An usurper who completely respects the
individual rights of everyone is infinitely more legitimate than a
tyrant--or even a Bush or Clinton--who received 99% of the vote in a free,
Certainly, the state may be able to get away with enforcing illegitimate
laws--but that does not make it right.
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