So there's 4 systems of law that have come up lately, in a peculiar and related way. (I'm not sure if I can fully express this way in this post, but I'm going to try)
* The "law" of the christian church as interpreted by cafeteria catholics and many protestants
* The various secular, western legal systems
* The DAO
What seems to come up, over and over again, between Christians and Muslims, is how the various tradeoffs work involving not believing, and not understanding the whole of the supposed faith. For example: Christopher Hitchens accusing Waleed Aly of not following his faith to the various people I've spoken to lately who do not seem to get what the punishment for adultery(especially homosexual adultery) is in Islam.
Depending on the sect, Christians do not have to literally believe every aspect of the bible, as long as certain core aspects of their faith is true. Some sects believe all you have to do is love jesus and that's roughly good enough for most things. Post-Protestant Reformation there is a wide variety of disagreement ranging over practically all aspects of the various canons involved. There are certainly Things You Can't Say, especially within a certain region or in-group subset: but there's a lot of leeway within Christiandom, which runs roughly from the pope himself who's been ruffling feathers lately to secular oddballs like myself who live in predominantly abramist-by-law, de-facto-christian countries.
Likewise, in the muslim world there's a lot of varying opinion on all things, too. There's even muslims out there who directly contradict, both the writings and spirit of very clear and obvious aspects of Islam as revealed in the Qur'an (and in the case of Sunni Islam at least as discussed in the Hadiths). They are OK with this, because by and large they either do not see their transgressions as important, aren't aware of them, aren't corrected by their community in practice. Yet the holy books clearly
 states certain, somewhat disturbing things, and clearly
state punishments that they must followed with. But this is not an issue because like 'junk' DNA: these particular rules and views are not necessarily ever invoked. They are part of the system of thought, on paper, but they are not live. They are functionality that is simply not used. They are part of a heritage that may as well be forgotten. (Until some western university educated alqaeda smartass goes and digs up the nasty bits, then there's trouble).
This week TheDAO had some "Junk" functionality that lay dormant, that suddenly came alive. People were hurt, financially, to a huge extent. TheDAO as a project is plausibly finished, and Ethereum is being dragged with it(see ). But it was always inherent in TheDAO that this could happen, TheDAO was designed so that only
the code of TheDAO counted and only
the code was used in The Drainer of TheDAO being able to gain benefit from it. It's a strange outcome, but no stranger than some of the stuff you'll read in the Hadiths
We can point to particular subsets of Islam where these things are not
forgotten, where they are still acted upon and where they still inspire things. In principle you could do the same to Christianity, with its inheriting Abramist rules from the Old Testament(in particular: eating shellfish or getting a tattoo is verbotten).
But there really does seem to me a kind of confusion, across the Christianity-Islam divide, at when is it appropriate to not know the rules you claim to abide by, and when it is appropriate to not follow them
. I'd suggest most christians have not actually read the bible. This may be more or less true among Islam and their Qur'an/hadiths. In both cases there's 'experts' who get to interpret The Rules for the local ingroups.
In Islam not following the rules can get you stoned. In christianity you may honestly not fare that much better(but you don't see that
much religious inspired violence in christian countries, but then again they tend to be wealthier so they can afford more deviance). In both cases, there's exceptions and there's situations where the rules are and are not applied. But being a part of one group or other, it may seem confusing, because the rules that determine when other rules are applied may not be altogether obvious or even codified - they are just what works, in practice, where Islam/Christianity is lived, and without living there, without walking a mile in their shoes, you'll probably miss the point even if you, as I have been doing, go through and read The Rules(I'm currently going through the Sunan an-Nasa'i hadith, on my way through the Sunni canon).
Similarly, there's a similar relationship forming between the legacy legal systems of the world, and The Code of digital systems. Until the Free Software/Open Source movements blossomed, there was usually An Author, or A Corporation that the people involved in the legal system could point at, and command to follow their command or abide by their law. Once Open Source/Free Software projects started, this became much more difficult, though not impossible(see the Linux Kernel Wifi stack and notice how when the FTC says jump, they jump -- you do not get to access wifi capability outside of your geographical region, and the Wifi stack developers have made it exceptionally difficult to route around their restrictions. Similar things are coming wherever DRM/EME is employed). Ethereum and Digital Autonomous Organizations/Digital Autonomous Companies (DAO/DACs) in particular the largest DAO in history "TheDAO" pose a problem, because they are starting to be designed such that
1) there's no one in charge
2) there's no way to shut it down from the perspective of the legal system
Once one of these things takes off, there are rules, and the rules alone govern what can and cannot happen.
But it turns out there's an exception to the rules. The exception comes in when the people who control the platform that the DAO runs on are also involved with the DAO, and have influence, whether 'soft' influence of social currency, or 'hard' influence of physically running the equipment involved, that allows the rules to be bent.
But like the confusion between when it is, and is not appropriate to follow previously defined rules, when it is, and is not appropriate to consent to a set of instructions -- it seems to be of a similar sort of confusion as the kind one gets when you consider
someone of the other faith.
In order to simulate the person of a faith you do not share in your mind for the purposes of understanding them, you could conceivably imagine something like 'what would I have to do if I were to join this faith'. You could look at the rules of the faith, the authorities you'd have to pay heed to (in this case; the authorities who define either the code(if you're a legalist) or the rules(if you're a moralist)), and then consider the consequences and parsimony involved in each. What we do not seem to be as able to do is to understand, without at least getting to that level of discussion and involvement with the particular faith, with the (typically unwritten) meta rules that govern which rules you would have applied to you, and which would not.
In the case of the legal system, there's a lot of clear guidelines -- but there are some people who manage to manipulate the system such that even in cases where it is clear the law was broken, they are not brought in front of it. I have always viewed the legal system as a sort of hostile system, a dangerous machine that ate the poor and spared the rich -- there are definitely examples you can point to of this ( Hillary Clinton avoiding being prosecuted for sharing information no different in principle than say Cheslea Manning). So there's rules and then there's rules that govern when the rules take place(which may or may not be explicit).
"Fair" has a definition within
each of these 4 systems, and only when defined as ex ante or ex post. "Consent" is similarly something that each of these 4 systems is going to have to grapple with how, in practice, it is going to take place. "Silence is consent" may work in Islam for young girls having sex but that may not work in the California legal system, for example. (There may be broader concepts of "fair" and "consent" that are not dependent upon these 4 systems but in practice in order to action these concepts you'll have to speak "the language" of those systems, or appeal to some deeper value which is perhaps the whole point here -- that these systems are the means which our values are extrapolated when we're dealing with large numbers of other people both across, within and outside of ingroups).
Ethereum and TheDAO represents, like Islam, and unlike the comparatively regional Christian/Legal System set of rules, a global view of law. Of how contracts are to be dealt with, what constitutes a contract. Pro forma and other Legal System concepts may or may not have a counterpart in the other systems. And the people in, especially TheDAO/Islam/The Legal System are going to view with great skepticism any attempt by the other 3 systems to decide things for them, especially in areas that they already have rules, and have the monopoly of the ability to enforce rules in those areas.
For the people participating in these systems, the perception of unfairness both within and across boundaries can certainly inspire negative emotional states, and the negative perception of those who are perceived to be engaged in unfair activity, at either the context of the system and at the broader human level. But because there are multiple types of unfairness (ex post/ex ante), across moralist/legalist lines, and probably across other aspects(marxist?), there will be ways of looking at eachother in equally demonizing ways both within and outside of the individual 4 systems. Perhaps one way that I have not seen before is the relationship between consenting to 'The Rules' as being a part of a group/even a group as large as one of these 4 systems, and getting the social status, financial benefit and other perks of membership. Obviously to a greedy individual the best case scenario would be to get all the perks and have to put up with none of the responsibility of acting in a fair manner, or even having rules at all. Likewise, the flip side it's thinkable to have a perfect altruist who, for being able to or just willing, gives up benefits that he even could have at the ability to make the rules 'fair' or apply in his chosen way.
What I'm seeing in TheDAO today is a lot of people who are clearly willing to get the benefit of having a system of rules, the properties of such a system being that, if the rules are somehow maintained, via a combination of technological and social factors, that there are benefits. Benefits that involve stability in storing value. The same kind of benefits you get when an API is stable for long enough to develop on it. The same kind of benefits that Banks in the 18th century would have had, when they actually didn't let the King steal your gold, or made it legally prohibitive for the to do so. In systems like the Legal System and (possibly TheDAO), where there may be some degree of What Rules Are Followed that are established via precedence, those benefits only come when a system is capable of perceiving itself, in some way, and when that system perceives itself as fair in the correct ways. In the case of TheDAO/ethereum a good deal of why it would work, would be the perception of this kind of fairness, and its maintenance via precedence. (This is not necessarily a stable thing, game theory wise, and may necessarily break down.). But what these people are not seemingly willing to accept is that part of the value comes from rules that they are willing to bend. Once they begin bending them, they may be bent into as much of a (nash) equilibrium as they are now...and further movements and changes will occur, dooming the system as a whole.
So really there's another way that unfairness can be perceived: between those who are for the rules and the system, and those who are just interested in the benefits (or probably more specifically, between people with different utility functions relating to each of these two values) -- sooner or later the behaviour of these two groups(or across the spectrum of utility functions) begins to differ, and the appearance of unfairness results.
 even more clearly to an outsider who sees the rules without prejudice, or worse, with prejudice -- The Drainer probably saw one particular aspect of TheDAO very clearly because there was a financial incentive for him to see it.