The reason a good citizen does not use such destructive
means to become wealthier is that, if everyone did so, we would
all become poorer from the mutual destructiveness. This is Kantian
ethics; or, the Golden Rule. Since I do not like the consequences
that result if everyone hoards information, I am required to
consider it wrong for one to do so. Specifically, the desire to be
rewarded for one's creativity does not justify depriving the world
in general of all or part of that creativity.
Stallman arguing Kantian ethics in the GNU manifesto.
I like Kantian ethics, they are rational, not emotional, so I was pleased when I read this this morning.
But, Stallman, rather embarrassingly, confuses the Golden Rule with the Categorical imperative (but argues with the later).
The Golden Rule is based on reciprocity, it states:
"Never impose on others what you would not choose for
yourself." (Confucius :))
Or in the positive:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do
to you, do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12)
I remember discussing the Christian version of the Golden Rule with my teacher in 4th grade. She claimed that following the Golden Rule would mean we would be all nice to each other. Being the logical thinker that I am I argued that this is not necessarily true, if someone for example likes to be hit, this would mean this person can go around hitting others. I remember because I was surprised that I had managed to make a grownup blush.
While the Golden Rule is personal the Categorical Imperative is political (as is the GNU manifesto). One should behave in a way, that if the behaviour is universalised it does not "create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs". Or how my mom used to put it: "What if everyone would do that?"
Societies are created by individuals and by our individual action we state in which kind of society we want to live in. For some this means founding the free software movement.