David R. Koepsell, The Ontology of Cyberspace: Philosophy, Law, and the Future of Intellectual Property. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 2000.
Reviewed by Arthur L. Morin
Law is a system of categorization. At the ideal level, one purpose of this system is to help the social system achieve justice. Though not stated so straightforwardly, this is David R. Koepsell’s position in his book The Ontology of Cyberspace: Philosophy, Law, and the Future of Intellectual Property.1 There is, of course, a dynamic interrelation between the legal system of categorization and the socio-cultural system(s) of categorization of which it is a part. Koepsell realizes this, or else he would not have been able to detect the disjunction between what software is and how it has been treated in the legal system. But what he does not seem to fully appreciate is that ontology does not necessarily beget justice. This is the First Problem — the distinction between ontology (what something is) and justice — and I will return to it later.