[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Wed Jan 19 16:50:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


And here begins a spate of responses from me...

On Wed, 19 Jan 2000, Ola Fosheim [iso-8859-1] Gr=F8stad wrote:

> Let's be really pedantic. It is clearly possible to have invalid goals.
> You will never reach it, but you can still act and believe that what you
> do will get you there ("there" is ill-defined). That said, it isn't
> obvious that people act in order to satisfy explicit goals.

Just because you will never reach it doesn't make it an invalid goal. It
makes it an impossible goal (for you at least).


> It is rather obvious that for ethical reasons, the MUD should somehow be
> beneficial to the players and at least not damaging to them.  This is
> the criterion which the validity of most systems are judged by in a
> democracy, and I see no reason for why MUDs should be different.  If you
> create a social interaction system then it is rather irresponsible to
> claim that you are irresponsible! If enough stupid people act
> cluelessly, perhaps with suicides as the outcome, then a law is passed
> and a bad practice has became illegal.  Do you need laws to be passed
> in order to act responsible??

So I'm curious, who judges what is beneficial and not damaging to the
players? I also have no idea what you are talking about when you say that
this is the criteria by which most systems are judged in a democracy. My
degree is in political science, and I certainly have never heard democracy
phrased that way. Further, beneficial to WHICH players? I think you'd have
a hard time finding ANY wide-spread program that is beneficial to all the
players (or citizens in a democracy). And again, define beneficial. Is
giving money to the poor beneficial to them? Not such an easy question to
answer. If you are truly concerned about the players, then shut down your
mud and urge them to go do things that will more efficiently improve their
lives. I, for one, am not convined that the players spending thousands of
dollars to play my game are truly benefiting. They are enjoying
themselves, but frankly, I suspect that they would benefit more in the
long run from doing other things with the money and time.

=20
> You may of course claim the anarchist religion as your belief system,
> but that doesn't really fit with the way you seem to run your mud ;).

I have, in fact, been an anarchist (anarcho-capitalist primarily) in the
past, but now I simply don't care, as long as I can do what I want, which
is generally the case. Further, the way I run my mud is _completely_
consistent with anarcho-capitalism. I own the mud, therefore I can do
whatever I please with it, providing it does not violate an explicit
contractual arrangement.=20

=20
> > Poorly phrased by me. My point is that regardless of where the content =
is
> > coming from (players or creator), the fact is, the world is _owned_ by =
the
> > creator (or his assignee). He does not have any real responsibilities t=
o
> > his players unless he chooses to accept them.
>=20
> I hope you realize that the idea of "ownership" is as culturally
> dependent as that of "moral". So basically you cannot dismiss
> responsibilities assumed by a culture without also dismissing the
> validity (or connotations) of "ownership".  So the basic issue is which
> "system of beliefs" is most sound and rigorously thought out? I'll claim
> that you probably will have to look at philosophy and
> cross-cultural/cross-religious invariance to find a decent answer.

Of course I realize that. Ownership is as fictitious as any morality, and
it is why I ended up giving up on anarcho-capitalism, as I couldn't see
any way to justify property ownership in a ethical system based on never
initiating the use or threat of force.

And I most certainly can dismiss responsibilities that aren't enforced by
law, because they are _imaginary_. Ownership exists because people with
guns (proverbial or otherwise) are willing to enforce it. If no one is
willing to enforce a "responsibility" then it's just a bunch of mental
masturbation. As someone once said (Lenny Bruce maybe?), "What is is what
is. Should is a dirty lie."

I also think that you cannot possibly believe that the basic issue is
which system of beliefs is the most sound and rigorously thought out. That
would be true if we all started with the same basic assumptions, upon
which we then built our systems. If that was the case, it would be easy to
mathematically deduce the most sound system of beliefs for
everyone. However, that is not the case. The search for a single system of
beliefs that is best for everyone is futile. Isaiah Berlin wrote an
excellent essay on this called 'The Pursuit of the Ideal' in which he
talks about how most ethical thinkers throughout time have implicitly (and
without good reason) assumed that if only certainy could be established in
our knowledgeof the external world by rational methods, then surely the
same methods would yield equal certainty when we speak of human behavior
-- what we should be, and how we should live.


>=20
> Is is rather obvious from a psychological perspective that some admins
> choose their belief system based on what is convenient in that
> particular situation. They would probably choose a different set of
> beliefs in a different situation. This is generally not viewed as having
> high moral standards?

Like the way people generally tend to act? Given that I have yet to meet
someone who does not bend morality to fit circumstances, it's hardly a
surprise that admins do it. Christians are against murder, unless it's
done on a really large scale it seems. America's slob of a president
stands up and calls terrorists cowards, and then turns around and bombs a
drugs factory in the Sudan. Americans claim that all people are equal, yet
see apparently no problem with bombing and  killing tons of innocent
civilians in order to reduce the risk that even 1 american life may be
lost on the ground.

High moral standards are also completely subjective, and how they are
generally viewed isn't important, at least to me. My ethical beliefs, at
least, are not based on popular consensus. (sorry if that sounds holier
than though. It's not meant to.)


> You are indeed responsible the moment you open your system to the
> general public, even in the legal sense of the word (depending on how
> "public" is defined).  Perhaps you even explicitly invite people, making
> promises? How can you then deny responsibility? You assume more
> responsibility when you are public than when you run a private closed
> MUD where the players can be assumed to understand the premises.  Do you
> refute this?  A MUD is not a party in your private house, and you are
> in fact not allowed to abuse visitors to your private home either.
> A club is perhaps more fitting for analogies.

Because responsibility is a fiction, that's why. It doesn't exist except
in your mind. You may find yourself being beaten up by government thugs if
you shirk the responsibilities they claim you have (draft, jury duty,
whatever), but responsibility in that case really has no meaning, except
that people with more force than you have decided to force you into doing
something. I'm sure many of you on this list would say that a parent has a
responsibility to a new-born child, but I don't see it that way, and
neither have many other cultures. I have no problem at all with
infanticide, or just leaving a baby outside to die of the elements, for
instance, providing it is your baby.


 =20
> I'm starting to believe that when you say "right" you actually mean: it
> is "legally possible". A lot of bad stuff is possible and legal,
> depending on which country you live in. So that is really not
> appropriate base for discussing ethical issues.  Or maybe what you are
> saying is "I am making a lot of bad decisions that make other people
> miserable, but I want to deny this feeling of guilt, therefore I assume
> the position that all goals and practices are acceptable"?

Yes, by right I mean what is legally possible. I don't believe in
"rights" because they don't exist. From where do rights derive? A right,
like a responsibility, is a fiction. If someone who can make you do
something, or stop others from doing things to you, claims you have a
responsibility or a right, and is willing to use force to back that up,
then those words have some semblance of reality. Otherwise, they are just
words. I'm not a Christian, and I don't believe in God. I think the entire
concept of natural rights is a joke. So where do these rights derive
from? Your arguments, it seems to me, presuppose that the Christian
ethical structure is right, and that is entirely as arbitrary as any other
system of ethics.


--matt




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