Considerations of accepting donations

FYI just in case this has not been on folks’ radar: Anduril is still donating to the foundation regularly via OpenCollective:

I personally hope that this doesn’t get treated as a “conference only” kind of issue.


What exactly are you suggesting here?

I don’t really see any problems whatsoever with Anduril donating to the Foundation.

I can understand you can have problems with conference sponsorship as it is quid pro quo. They can advertise themselves and can do Recruitment. And are given a platform to advertise their services. And that is something you might not want to support.

But donations to the Foundation don’t give you anything in return. They’re donations after all; not sponsorship.

I also don’t think we should limit who can donate money to the Foundation. (I don’t even think we can – legally speaking).


I do. Just in the same way that I would see a problem with MBS donating. Donations to foundations are part of PR strategies no matter if it happens in an explicitly or implicitly “quid pro quo” fashion. Anduril gets to be “nice” and “give back” - this helps with their perception in the community and beyond. I believe players in the military industrial complex ought not to be given that chance, even more so if they work on technology that is controversial even in military circles.

I do think that, and you definitely are able to. Nobody is obliged to take money from anyone for anything. If there’s bylaws that restrict this, then those should be changed.


Is your moral philosophy basically that if some entity does a bad enough thing, their community shouldn’t be able to benefit from any good things that the entity does because it might make people feel conflicted about condemning that entity?

If Anduril built a hundred children’s hospitals, financed cheap, unrestricted cures for seven different cancers, and developed a technology that turned climate change back by fifty years, they would still be a company that did all that and built things to make it easier for people to kill other people. Would you rather not have the good things and just have a company that builds things to make it easier for people to kill other people, just so nobody has conflicting feelings about how bad they are?

I doubt that “implementation details” of my moral compass are on-topic, especially given that I’m not (yet) involved in any Nix projects. If you’d like to discuss it in private or elsewhere, I’d be willing to engage.


You’re here talking about your beliefs:

So are your beliefs on topic or not? You want to make a moral recommendation to the Foundation in public but not to discuss that recommendation in public?


If you look closely, I wrote private or elsewhere. Unless a representative of the foundation makes an explicit request I elaborate my reasoning in this thread, I wouldn’t want to discuss this here because it makes no sense to me to bother the community with overly verbose descriptions of the views of someone who isn’t affiliated with the project in any meaningful capacity.

If you want to start a new thread in the Uncategorized section, or if you want to poke me on Mastodon and link it from here, be my guest. I promise I will engage with your idea of a hypothetical benevolent humanitarian military industrial complex startup there. Cheers


Do you have concrete examples of other open source software foundations with bylaws that allow this kind of filtering? Also concrete suggestions on how to set up donations for such a situation? We’re currently using open collective and a public IBAN number and I don’t think either allow for what you’re asking.

Also open collective feature set is very nice as the foundation can be very transparant about expenses and income without too much hassle. I don’t want to lose that.


FWIW, I think it would be useful if you could defend your position, if for no other reason that you make a reasonable point. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an exposition of your personal values, but rather a case for what you argued in your posts.

It seems to me (and keep in mind I’m not an expert in moral philosophy) that the arguments being made are a pretty good match for the debate between consequentialist vs deontological ethics:

from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome

→ Anduril’s money is good, becaus its outcome (funds going to Nix platform development) is good.

In moral philosophy […] deontology is the […] theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules and principles, rather than based on the consequences of the action.

→ Anduril’s money is bad, because Anduril violates one or more ethical principles.

This is, of course, an old debate, and one that we’re not likely to solve here. But maybe introducing these terms in the conversation can help people make better arguments.

One thing that comes up for me is that the deontological position assumes that people will agree on the moral value of a claim only if they share the same beliefs about the principles it impinges on. Specifically: whether one thinks Anduril’s money is good or bad depends on their position on the ethical principles Anduril supposedly violates (it would also be good to name these principles, by the way).

So: does the Nix community have enough of a convergence of beliefs on ethical principles to make the deontological position tenable? I am not so sure, personally.


This doesn’t strictly follow just from consequentialism, and has the implit assumption that Nix is inherently good (I think we all accept some version of that).

I could e.g. equally argue that the damage to the potential brand value could lead to other sponsors not wanting to donate, thus leading to less funds for the Nix platform development team.

If we say that we agree that e.g. it’s morally wrong not to take money from Anduril, that it is wrong not to allow Anduril employees to wear their badge, or that it is simply unfair to Anduril, then I could, consequentially, say that regardless of those moral stances, the consequences of not taking the money would still lead to a morally better world, where NixOS might prosper more from avoiding the loss of brand value.

My point here isn’t to be for or against the sponsorship, and nothing here is a complete argument for either position. My point is more to show that I don’t think this boils down to a question of consequentialism against deontology.


I totally agree, @cafkafk, and I AM an expert in moral philosophy (actually not really, in my own opinion, but I play one on TV, i.e. I used to be a professional ethicist).

Accepting donations from Anduril or not is certainly an important topic, and one which should be discussed. But while it is related to the sponsorship discussion, I think it would be better to move it out into its own thread, to keep the discussion here on topic for the sponsorship policy itself. So if you want to continue (I personally do but I am currently resource constrained), please use the Discourse feature to reply in a new thread linking to the old. (You can find the button in the share link to post menu).


Actually I think it would be best if mods could split out the sub-thread about direct donations into its own thread, so we don’t lose context. Otherwise I don’t see myself opening a new thread, it would be cumbersome referencing people’s posts here.

/cc @ryantm @zimbatm


I’ve split it out into its own thread.