Tim Cook: “National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2019/10/11/apple-ceo-tim-cook-defends-decision-to-drop-controversial-hong-kong-protest-app/#161be9c8186c).
Over the last two weeks, America’s woke capitalists have been only too eager to placate China’s authoritarian government at the cost of the residents of Hong Kong. The protesters there are keen on retaining the legal privileges they inherited from British rule (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/09/opinion/china-houston-rockets.html).
In the past, Tim Cook, like the NBA, has voiced all manner of progressive talking points and been keen to denounce Donald Trump. In the quote above, he is trying to argue that by cancelling an app that allows Hong Kong protestors to monitor police activity, the company is not obeying China’s authoritarian government and is not therewith seeking to protect its vast exposure to the Chinese economy (https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/10/10/20908480/apple-china-hkmap-app-censorship-hong-kong-protests-tim-cook). I am not sure anyone is convinced and, besides, there is a theoretical problem.
David Hume’s theory of justice is simple and provocative. Justice is utility, he argues. He gives the example of war. The point of war, minimally, is not to lose, and likely the utility is to win on account of the benefits that accrue to the victor: property, prestige, influence, etc. The practices used in war are just if they serve its utility. He offers the argument that if an enemy fights like a partisan then it is just for the other nation to reciprocate, i. e., to take the gloves off and forget about Queensbury rules.
Cook’s curious separation of facts from geopolitics is to misstate the utility problem. Does it serve a company whose ethos is Californian to side with authoritarianism over liberty? To think there is something plain and obvious about cancelling the app is disingenuous. You need only consider how he’d finesse the matter if the app was being used in a Black Lives Matter protest.