The Simple Economics of Open Source

Boris Borcic zorro at
Thu Apr 27 05:53:05 EDT 2000

Robin Becker wrote:
> I don't think the pessimists amongst whom I count myself reject altruism
> totally. A purely altruistic action has benefit for others and none for
> the actor.

Makes me wonder. It is relatively obvious to argue that a non-existent
is the natural representation of the existents that resemble it most.
As long as the actor survives, there must exist ways to view aspects
of his/her further life as a benefit of the action. This leads to the
totem-and-taboo case of Jesus Himself. One might say that Jesus redeems
your argumentation by providing a admitted proof that perfect altruism
is in principle possible - thus forbidding to take perfect altruism in
your sense, as an adequate metaphor for the imperfect altruism that you
exclude. But I gather that this was not the intention of the Scripture.

I would satisfy myself with an action that is consistent with being
purely motivated by the benefit for others. Altruism makes sense as
a choice to behave while aiming at the greater common good *assuming
by fiat* a society of like, mutually altruistic agents, thus making
such a society *possible*, and in any case, such a society is
inconsistent with the "goal" implied by your overstrict
definition of altruism : depriving agents of any benefit, when they
are viewed one by one.


"Hope achieves the square root of the impossible"

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