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From Antony Blakey <>
Subject Re: [Couchdb Wiki] Update of "CouchDB in the wild" by blackmagic rue
Date Fri, 23 Jan 2009 02:47:23 GMT

On 23/01/2009, at 1:02 PM, Noah Slater wrote:

> I can imagine that there are some sites which we would not want to  
> link to, even
> under your proposal. I do not have any concrete examples.

I wouldn't want to link to gambling sites, or weapons sites, or  
misogynistic sites. But if it were up to me I would allow everything  
not illegal, without exception, subject to technical requirements  
being met.

> Even your suggestion
> of disallowing anything illegal is an ethical position. There is  
> nothing
> intrinsic about common law that makes it an ethical baseline.

Of course the law has nothing to do with ethics - it's a combination  
of prejudice, history, power and utilitarianism. I agree that  
following the law can be, however, an ethical decision, although not  
the basis on which I suggest we do so.

> Making the decision to disallow links to illegal content, or  
> disallowing a
> particular link for whatever reason we decide, is an ethical  
> judgement. As a
> community it is our right to do this. There is nothing objectivist  
> about this as
> long as we frame it within a relative position.

I suggest that we follow the law as a pragmatic issue only. In so far  
as virtually every decision has an ethical dimension, this is still  
not objective, but I don't think there is anything better.

Now, if the law of the hosting country allowed child porn for some  
bizarre reason, then I'd have to expose my inner Kantian, and would be  
making a different argument. And in fact there is a real issue here -  
France and Germany (at least) have laws against trading in  
(discussing?) Nazi artifacts - both ebay and google have run into  
that. Should we not allow that? And if we respect the laws of France  
and Germany, then what about the laws of China or Burma or Thailand or  
Saudi Arabia.

So there's no escaping some degree of ethical decision making. But  
practically speaking, obeying the laws of the country in which you  
host (or in which you could be prosecuted), seems a no-brainer, and  
IMO can sidestep further disagreement.

Antony Blakey
CTO, Linkuistics Pty Ltd
Ph: 0438 840 787

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever  
that it is not utterly absurd.
   -- Bertrand Russell

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