The vast, vast majority of GF members would run circles around me when it comes to knowledge of the technical aspects of magic and the art of performing magic. So the questions that follow are not intended to suggest that I have the answers. I don't. But I found one of Mr. James' comments interesting, and it hit home for me as potentially a very legitimate observation.
Here is Wesley James' comment from the aforementioned Cafe thread:
So here are the questions:Bottom line, those who wish to take punitive attitudes toward Magic Makers should consider the moving target that is the ethical line where marketed items fall in the magic field. I'm still trying to find a bright line in that area and I know of no one who has yet defined one.... . [emphasis added]
does such a bright line test exist that is susceptible to general consensus?
if not, does anyone care to try and formulate one?
if one cannot be so articulated here, can a majority of magi agree that the ethical concerns that have dogged Magic Makers (and no doubt, throughout our history, other people and companies) are very fact specific and not really capable of being subjected to a bright line test?
If this issue has been addressed before, my apologies. If not, perhaps a discussion can follow which addresses the questions without devolving into a series of posts damning MM or similar wrongdoers.
Here are my limited observations on Mr. James' comments: I'm not comfortable with viewing any sort of ethical line as a moving target. For me, such a view strips the very ethic-ness of the issue at hand out of the equation: the ethic-ness of an issue should not be a moving target. If he will forgive me for putting words in his mouth, I tend to think that Mr. James was really saying that there are grey areas in matters of ethics, and these grey areas are generated when one tries to apply a universal, bright-line test to all ethical issues. In other words, what constitutes ethical behavior is often or nearly always a very fact-specific matter. An example: we would all agree that its wrong to kill another human being, but of course most of us would modify our opinion if we were asked if its wrong to kill when its necessary for self-defense. So the facts behind each value judgment are crucial.