Ethipat - the Campaign for Ethical Patents is an initiative of the FFII

Neal H. Walfield neal at
Sun Mar 4 20:12:19 UTC 2007

At Fri, 2 Mar 2007 18:36:55 +0100,
"Stefano Spinucci" <virgo977virgo at> wrote:
> from the site
> * About Ethipat *
> The Campaign for Ethical Patents is an initiative of the FFII.
> Why "Ethics"?
> Ethics is our sense of justice, our sense of the balance in a
> relationship. When a law or system treats many people unfairly, it's
> unethical. People have abused the term, saying "business ethics",
> which is an oxymoron like "military intelligence" or "industrial
> action". Businesses do not have a sense of ethics unless they are very
> small, or run by very clever and dominant people who understand that
> balance and fairness can be good for profits.
> Surely "ethics" is totally subjective?
> We've defined ethics in terms of discrimination. If we argue against a
> system or law because we don't like it, we're being subjective. But if
> argue against it because it treats certain people unfairly, we're
> being objective. Ethics, when framed like this, is not philosophy, but
> a real yardstick that we can use to measure the balance, and overall
> value, of any social system, partnership, agreement, contract, etc.

Wordnet defines ethics as follows: "motivation based on ideas of right
and wrong."  This nicely captures the idea of ethics as a framework
for evaluating the correctness of an action (or inaction).  Thus, the
idea of labelling something as ethical or not implicitly makes
reference to some ethicical framework; there is no ethical or
unethical without evaluating them in the context of a sense of right
and wrong.

By entitling your campaign the way you have, you make it appear that
the current system is necessarily unethical.  This is, of course,
non-sense.  The framework that you have set up, one based on
formulations of fairness, may certainly judge the current system in
this manner.  But that does not imply necessity of judgment.  Given
that the system currently exists and there is resistance to change it
is proof that there are ethical frameworks in which this is not
condemned.  The result is that your title implies that those
frameworks that do not share your ethical judgment are invalid.  This
is no way to start a dialogue or promote understanding; this is a type
of emotive propaganda.

Your definition of subjective and objective have similar flaws.

Why not call your campaign, a campaign for balanced patents?  This
immediately highlights the real issue, anyway.

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