Talk:A Critique of Benkler's Argument for a Commons-Based Content Layer

From Yochai Benkler - Wealth of Networks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Logical Inconsistencies 1: Benkler's Fairness Critique

To see the revision to which I refer, please look at:

There are a number of deep rooted logical inconsistencies in Carver's critique. I will address one this tiny subset, until I have a better understanding of the pre-established social dynamics of this wiki.

The problem is a common logical inconsistency, so is hardly surprising to run across. I also do not believe it can be resolved, but depending on reaction to this post, I may revise this position.

Response to:The Argument Proves Too Much

1.1) "unfair distribution is not a sufficient reason to switch to a commons-based approach to information outputs." This is a trivial (False implies true) statement. Benkler never once claims that the 'fairness' is a sufficient reason to switch to information outputs. It is simply one of the reasons.

1.2) "commons-based regimes go too far in attempting to address inequity:" This is a problem of contradiction. In the paragraph directly prior Carter states "Even Benkler does not seem to want to wholly switch to a commons-based regime for all outputs." She has trivially disproven her own point (Commons-based regimes go too far), or at the very least, is making a null assertion ('this is a fact, and thus [completely unrelated thing goes here]).

1.3) "Benkler is correct to the extent he argues that denying poor people the basic informational necessities is unfair, see id. at 303, but it does not follow that proprietary rights themselves are unfair." This is a problem of Axiom. At no point does Carter provide a sufficient explanation into why proprietary rights are themselves unfair. This author assumes that the reason she has made this assertion is based on her own personal moral and/or ethical beliefs/structure. As a result, this statement is in err-- this Author will go out on a limb and suggest that the ethics/morals to which Carter is applying this logic, or rather, the unsaid axiom in her conclusion is the structure of Smithian Capitalism.

Benkler and Smith are using different sets of Axioms. Carter needs to approach this argument again, without assuming that Capitalism is a Truth (with a capital T), and instead, is a different axiomatic structure-- that is, much in the way Euclidean geometry is not "Truth" because Hyperbolic geometry is as equally valid, so too is Benkler valid (possibly) within his own structure, just as Smith is.

>In other words, Carter needs to show that Benkler is being internally inconsistent, not that his system does not work within the old Capitalist model. That is a logical inconsistency that -needs- to be -understood- and addressed.

Commons-based Regimes Fail to Adequately Recognize Labor

2.1) "The creator may have invested much time, money and effort into producing the information output." This is the If in the beginning of her If-then statement, but already I have contention. I do not agree with her If, or rather, her premise is incorrect. Carter is under the belief that an investment of time, money, and effort into producing information should return a direct monetary investment. Even in Capitalism this is not the case-- and nor necessarily should it be. Carter fails to again work within the Axioms that Benkler puts forth, falling into the trap of attempting to understand this entirely new Axiomatic structure from within the isolated context of Capitalism. She is defining, right here, that Time|money|Effort = Money>money. Benkler is asserting that by contributing to the Commons, individuals are -enhancing- the commons, which in turn enhances their lives. Until she addresses the argument under this premise, her argument is again a Null Statement.

I will continue picking at her argument in this section, however, but only briefly, as it all falls within the trouble of not addressing Benkler's internal consistency, but the (incorrectly understood) "Truth" of his arguments

2.2) "It seems ludicrous to say that Tolstoy should receive nothing for his work while others should have free access to it; this would allows others to free-ride on Tolstoy’s efforts" Here, we see Carter working under the assumption that Tolstoy, giving to the commons, would not benefit from that contribution-- unsaid in this statement is NOT that he would receive 'nothing' as this is factually incorrect under the most cursory of considerations: recognition? Influence? Popularity? Respect? Power? Sparking of discussion? Friendships? Altering the course of human events? Changing his situation by motivating social change? Under what world is that 'nothing' except one that defines "nothing" as "not money?" Then the assertion of a free-ride is also disconcerting, as it more or less implies that no one else would contribute. This is addressed again and again in Benkler's book. This author personally gains absolutely nothing (directly) from Folding@home, not even recognition (as he's never checked, nor cares to check, his statistics). This Author is actually had absolutely no interest in purchasing a PS3 at any time in his future, until he learned that they contribute massive amounts of processor time to the project, relative to a desktop CPU, and so the author would actually be hurting himself, in order to contribute to this massive 'free ride,' as Carter refers to it.

2.3) "even if some people would produce for free, this does not mean it is fair to create a regime that requires this outcome." To which one would reply that Benkler is not asserting that a regime be created, so much as the old regime needs to be dissolved for the greater good of the society which, in turn, would benefit not a small amount of individuals, but a large amount of individuals. Once again this is placing her moral judgements on the work, instead of addressing it for its internal consistency; that moral judgement is the very perverted belief that something which benefits a tiny fraction of a fraction of a fraction, while harming the overwhelming near-whole is 'more fair' than a system in which a tiny, tiny fraction of a fraction is marginally harmed compared to the overwhelming near-whole which benefits massively. Further, she contradicts herself by pointing out earlier "they do not merely grant free access to those in need, but also grant free access to rich people," which in turn undercuts her argument that the 'rich' are hurt under this system in a significant way.

2.4) "information producers should have proprietary protections to recognize their labor and allow them to make a living." Finally we come to it. 'Make a living.' The axiomatic inconsistency of Carter again comes full force, as she attempts to apply her moral/ethical structure to a moral/ethical structure that's different (as a note, this author hates moral relativism, and is not in any way, shape, or form endorsing it, but instead suggesting that trying to make system A work inside System B will fail unless A is a proper subset of B). Benkler is suggesting that capital production based on information itself needs to be phased out and eliminated, and in doing so, the society as a whole will benefit vastly through the networked information provided; that it would be able to grow exponentially and uninhibited, just as it is already -proven- to in the plethora of examples Benkler provides. Just as massive regulation of the markets inhibits the markets, one might frame Benkler's argument through analogy, so too does the turning of Information into Property deeply inhibit the growth of information itself. This author is disturbed by Carter's apparent belief that Benkler is advocating the elimination of all property outside the context of information, the elimination of service, administration, finances, so on and so forth.

Also I'm not sure why I'm talking in the third person, but it's been gravy up till now. I suppose it helped me be objective. In any case, I want to make a final point..

Carter seems to be completely missing Benkler's point throughout her critique, attempting to disprove him with arguments that don't even apply. I come from a math background, so this is plainly clear to me, and I worry, as is often the case, this will be lost entirely on most readers, and perhaps even the author of the critique. I'm not suggesting that as a personal attack, but more a warning to carefully review my points within this context, and to not approach them outside it. If Carter feels her argument holds, I strongly suggest she change her critique to being an "Objectivist Critique" or something similar, as that would be more accurate. I feel that a Critique, if the Axiomatic system the Author is using is not defined, is under the axiomatic system of what is being critiqued. On the other hand, I personally feel that attempts to critique a system, to challenge its consistency, using a different system is not only flawed, but a pointless intellectual exercise that doesn't progress the dialogue. As a result, I strongly suggest that Carter rewrite her article, and attempt to use Benkler's framework to prove him wrong.

If Benkler is internally inconsistent, then he's internally inconsistent, and there's no reason to challenge the validity of his assertions within that framework. Instead, it comes time to challenge whether or not that framework can be practically/pragmatically applied to a real world system.Mrrar 13:55, 3 April 2007 (PDT)

Content (?) Problems

There are two issues which I wish to address, summarized as lack of 1) lack of Wikification, and 2) Layout problems in her arguments.

1)There needs to be a link back to a primary Critique index, as well as directly reference all Benkler references (as they are currently on the web!). Using a wiki as a dumping ground for one's thoughts is great, but it should follow the wiki logic, and have multiple branches

2) There needs to be an enumeration of all of her arguments, so that they can be responded to in a more efficient manner (at least on the assumption that she cares about the input of, is willing to discuss, revise, and reconsider her arguments-- if, on the other hand, this is a static critique, it should be moved offsite and linked to from a primary Critique index.Mrrar 13:55, 3 April 2007 (PDT)

As far as I remember, Carvers critique used to be linked from 9._Justice_and_Development. At some point it was removed. Mads 23:10, 3 April 2007 (GMT)