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Re: Proposal - Statement that Sarge will follow Woody requirement for main.

On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 06:10:25PM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> On Wed, May 26, 2004 at 06:32:49AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > Yes, I am claiming it's inaccurate. The basis for claiming it's inaccurate
> > is that there's _no_ basis for it in the constitution.
> > The claim "We're required to do our Debian work wearing pink tutus"
> > is inaccurate for the same reason. I'm not sure how you'd prove that,
> > except to say "There's no basis for that claim in the constitution" --
> > the onus of proof is on whoever's claiming that there is such a rule
> > (which they should do by demonstrating the basis).
> Except the constitution doesn't say anything about pink tutus, and while
> it does explicitly mention the social contract.

Sure. It says that it's crucial to the project's purpose and we can't
modify it. It also mentions the project leaders delegates, are we to
presume an implied rule that anything one of them says must be obeyed
absolutely? Or how about the DFSG -- it's mentioned in the same spot as
the social contract; should we assume we have to obey it to the letter,
rather than treating it as guidelines? Does the DFSG apply to everything
we do as the social contract presumably does, and not just the contents
in main? Does that mean in spite of the recent GR, we're required to
remove non-free anyway?

> I think the problem I'm having with this argument is that the argument
> is totally independent of the meaning of the words of the claim.

Unless you mean "That was meaningless nonsense. You might as well
have said `assuredly Chicano diarrhea's Carmella backgrounds Brutus
disagreement's bridle exhilarates federalism's breezed decommissioned'
as what you did." I'm not sure what you're trying to get at with that
comment. [0]

> > Let's put it differently. I think most people in the US would happily
> > agree that the Bible has been very important to the US historically and
> > it's very important to many today. They could decide that "the Bible
> > is critical to America's mission and purpose" -- on the presumption,
> > perhaps, that its the basis for the morality of a large chunk of the
> > population -- and declare it a "Foundational Document". Maybe throw in
> > the Koran or The Art of War too for a bit of variety.
> This isn't a good analogy because the U.S. constitution doesn't make
> any such claim about the bible.

Well, of course it doesn't. We made up the whole "foundation documents"
thing ourselves -- no one else is going to have the same provisions. If
the US were to adopt Debian's provisions, is there some reason to think
the Bible couldn't be a Foundational Document for the US? Is there any
reason to think that if it were, it would have to be treated differently
to how it is -- ie as something to follow much of the time, but not
necessarily all the time, and something to be enforced by conscience
rather than law in many cases?

> > > > > In what way has it "not been made under the constitution"?
> > > > There's no specification of what we'll actually do with the social
> > > > contract.
> > > Except that we're not supposed to work against it.
> > No, we're not meant to work against the specifications that are there.
> Why "No"?

Because the terms of the social contract aren't rules made under the
constitution, afaics. The _text_ of the social contract is governed
by rules made under the constitution (viz, "the text can't be modified
without a 3:1 vote"), but that's it, afaics.

> > > None of this means that the social contract isn't currently in the set of
> > > "decisions properly made under the rules of the constitution".
> > Well, you can't prove a negative in that sense, so if that's what you're
> > demanding, you won't ever be satisfied.
> Eh?  Are you claiming that I cannot prove that I'm not a marshmallow?

No, you can't prove a negative of the form "There's no evidence that
such-n-such is the case." For the case of "You're a marshmallow" there's
positive evidence that it's not the case that you can provide -- you're
bigger and not as tasty.

> Ok, granted, proofs are "convincing explanations" and a person can simply
> refuse to be convinced regardless of any relevant evidence,

But there's no positive evidence you can provide that says "This
isn't a rule under the constitution" for the social contract, any more
than there's positive evidence that we're not required to wear pink
tutus. The only way to be sure there's not is to do an exhaustive search
of everything, but that doesn't form a persuasive argument, because how
does the reader know that some GR or DPL pronouncement hasn't been missed?

Which means that the person claiming there is a rule has to meet the
burden of proof. Seriously, I'm happy to discuss this; but if you want
proof that there's no such rule, you're asking for the impossible,
even if it's the case.

> > But consider it this way: each one of the above, if written into the
> > constitution explicitly, would result in different ways of looking at
> > the social contract. Some would be stricter than others. Some mightn't
> > be that much different from not having a social contract at all. Which
> > one does the constitution imply? Why doesn't it imply the others?
> I think you're trying to argue that the social contract should be looked
> at as a goal we've never achieved (and there's plenty of evidence that
> we've never fully followed it).

No, I don't believe that; I think we've always followed it properly,
including from the moment we first adopted it, and that we should always
follow it properly. But what I believe isn't really the question: it's
what the project believes, and what's best for the project.

> I also think you are trying to say that our relationship with the social
> contract is not clear.  I think I disagree, there.  To me, it's pretty
> clear that we are not supposed to actively work against the social
> contract.  

That would be another new view. Not actively working against the social
contract is different to actively supporting it. Does that mean that
when it says "We will keep our entire bug-report database open for
public view at all times." we're not required to actually do that,
but we're just required to not deliberately take the BTS down?

> > Really? On what basis do you think that? I can't see anything in the
> > constitution that forbids such a resolution, which means it'd be a valid
> > decision, which means working against it isn't allowed...
> And as long as that position statement doesn't cause the social contract
> to be displaced as inferior or antiquated, I agree that there's nothing
> in the constitution which says the decision is not valid.

Mmm. I don't think "displacing" the social contract is really the issue.

> > People can think all sorts of things, but they're not necessarily right.
> > Ignoring a clause in a document doesn't mean replacing that document.
> Ignoring a clause in a document means we are setting aside that part of
> the document.

No, it means we're ignoring it. It's still there, to be paid attention to
in the future if we need it.

> > > > deciding that it's not the right way to go because other options have
> > > > better outcomes is surely a better path than choosing not to think about
> > > > the option, though; [...]
> > > Hmm... this sounds sensible, but I'm having trouble grappling with
> > > what it really means.
> > What other options are there, other than ignoring the SC?
> Um... I guess the answer to that one would have to be: not ignoring
> the SC.  

Oh for heaven's sake... Is that really the depth of thought you're
putting into this?

If you were in a bar, and some guy barged past you and elbowed you out of
the way you could ignore it or you could... do other things: you could
elbow him back, punch him, say "excuse me", say "what's your problem?",
throw your drink at him, pull out a concealed weapon and shoot him in
the back. Or you could ignore him for the moment, then follow him out
of the bar and have a fight. Or you could find his car and key it. Or
you could find his girl and steal her away. Or you could have a quiet
word with the bartender or the owner so he's not let back in. Or wander
past him later and elbow him back.

There are plenty of other ways of dealing with the social contract too.
Describing them as "not ignoring it" is... worthless.

> > How do these options make it harder to build a good OS?
> > How do these options make it easier to build a good OS?
> Which gets us back to the concept of "a good OS".  A decent chunk of
> our definition for that being tied up in the social contract and dfsg.

Yeesh. Everything we do is aimed at making it easier to build a good OS:
running the buildds, updating policy, the entirety of the constitution.
It's not that hard to think about.

> > Which of these difficulties are least cumbersome? 
> > Which of these benefits are most useful?
> > Which of these options is therefore the best for Debian to adopt?
> Best in what sense?  Oh, wait, social contract... hmm...

"Oh, wait, that'd require thought."

> I do recognize that the social contract, as it's currently written, has
> some extremely specific things to say about our handing of "what can we
> release", and that's probably the bit that you think I'm assuming is true.

Actually it says stuff about what "the Debian system" is. That may or may
not have anything to do with releases, depending on what you include in
"the Debian system".

> It's hard to talk (and think) in the mode of "here are some conflicting
> points of view, and here's some sensible ways we can compare and contrast
> them".  Basically, you need further points of view to let you notice
> the other points of view.

There have been plenty of points of view raised on this list. It's not
hard to find them. Dealing with conflicting points of view is trivial;
go see a movie with some friends, ask them what they thought, and watch
what happens. Resolving the conflicts requires more care, though.

> That said, there are some things we should probably assume in any point
> of view in this release management discussion (a basic grasp of english
> being one).

So who are you claiming is involved that doesn't even have a basic grasp
of english? Or, alternatively, why did you think that comment was worth


[0] $ for a in `seq 1 12`; do head -n $RANDOM /usr/share/dict/words | 
      tail -n 1; done | fmt
    assuredly Chicano diarrhea's Carmella backgrounds Brutus disagreement's
    bridle exhilarates federalism's breezed decommissioned

Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
Don't assume I speak for anyone but myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''

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