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The GNU philosophy: Ethics beyond ethics

Marianne Corvellec

Ethics is at the root of free software. In a philosophical perspective where ethics is operational rather than moral, we argue that the ethics of Free Software goes beyond ethics. It is morality. The ever-present concern for self-respect, autonomy and, of course, freedom makes free software akin to historical philosophical movements (humanism, Enlightenment, existentialism). Besides, the Free Software Movement contribute their principles (such as transparency) and practices (such as cryptography) to support whistleblowers, journalists, and activists. Similarities with other social movements let us derive existing and possible coalitions.


5 years, 3 months ago

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LibrePlanet 2017 video · LibrePlanet 2017 · LibrePlanet · lp2017 · video

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LibrePlanet 2017 Videos (libreplanet)


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.