The floomps are a creature not too unlike us (but much furrier). They live in their little floomp village and work together in a civilized fashion. The floomps believe in free will. They believe that any other floomp has multiple options to choose from, and more importantly that all of those options are real possibilities. In other words, whenever a floomp does something that another floomp doesn’t like, that one thinks that not only should the other floomp not have done that, but that it actually could have, through it’s own volition, not done it.
For the floomps there was a time that the intuitive feeling of free will was an evolutionary advantage. To be able to imagine multiple options and elect from one of them allowed them to choose options that were a long term advantage, rather than just immediate instinctual options that led to short term results. This assisted the floomps in thriving and reaching the point in which they did today.
If a floomp caused problems in the village, the rest of the floomps, rightly so based on their free will belief, blamed the floomp that was causing problems. They punished and embarrassed the floomp, after all, it could have done otherwise than to do what it did- but chose not to! The floomps truly believed that the floomp they were blaming deserved the punishment it received. They were justified in taking retribution on any mis-behaving floomp for not doing the right thing. An eye for an eye mentality stemmed from their belief.
In regards to deserve, the floomps recognized that because any floomp could have done, of their “free will”, otherwise – that if they obtained something through their own action, they truly deserved that something. The floomps that obtained great wealth in the village were placed on a pedestal of being “more deserving” of that wealth than those who did not. That is because those floomps who did the thing that lead to such wealth, did so of their own “free will”. Those floomps that didn’t obtain the wealth didn’t do the appropriate things to obtain such, even though they had the free will to do so. According to the floomps the unwealthy truly could have done otherwise, but simply chose not to.
This free will belief lead to an imbalance of well-being amongst the floomps as each floomp deserved what they had or didn’t have. If they were of the “have not” group of floomps, they could have been in the “have” group but chose not to. It was their own fault and hence they deserved their “have not” state. Civilization didn’t collapse in the floomp village because this kind of sink or swim mentality did produce incentives to be productive, even if at the expense of great inequalities and harms.
In a village near-bye lived the moomps. The moomps were naturalists who didn’t believe in free will. Well, in their early years they did, in fact they had the same ancestors as the floomps, but they diverged into two different species of free will believers. Later on, unlike the floomps, the moomps recognized that they didn’t actually have free will. They all rationally understood that the feeling they had of “free will” was an illusion, so they abandoned any ideas built on the free will illusion. They recognized that other moomps couldn’t have, of their own accord, done otherwise. Even when a moomp did something bad, they recognized that the moomp was a product of it’s biology and environment, and that if they were that very moomp in that very environment, they also would have done the bad thing as well.
This gave the moomps great compassion for what they called the “causal unluckiness” of all of the other moomps, and they were sure not to punish any moomp excessively. Rather, the moomps focused on rehabilitating any other moomp who had the urge to do harmful things in the village. When they couldn’t rehabilitate a moomp, to prevent it from harming others, they would quarantine the moomp, and they developed a system that would watch over that moomp to make sure it didn’t cause any more trouble. They did all of this with great compassion and understanding for the harmful moomp, and rather than have anger over what the moomp did, they felt a sort of sadness for it’s circumstances. It was perhaps the same sort of sadness one would have for a moomp with a contagious disease that needed to be quarantined away from the rest of the village.
Moomps also recognized that no other moomp was more or less “deserving” of their well-being than any other moomp. Just because one moomp had the causal variables to do something another moomp didn’t, didn’t mean that the moomp was more deserving. The moomps didn’t need incentives of having “more than” other moomps to be productive members of the village. Rather, the moomps understood that being productive increased the well-being of all moomps in the village equally, and if the well-being of all moomps was increase, so was the personal well-being of the individual moomp. That was all the incentive needed for the moomps to be productive. The other type of incentive, of getting something more than what other moomps have, was an irrational incentive. It wasn’t rationally justified in light of the fact that no moomp was more or less deserving than another – as they knew that each moomp was a product of their causal luck. This led to a compassion for the unlucky and due to this the moomps tried to be as equal as they could in wealth and health distribution.
One day a floomp and a moomp were walking in the forest, each looking for berries, mushrooms, and other food. Each walked a little farther than usual, and they happened across each other. This was the first meeting of a floomp and a moomp. Startled, they backed away slowly from each other. The floomp asked “What are you?”.
“I’m a moomp, and you?”
Their language was close enough due to the common ancestors they both had shared. As the floomp and moomp began to talk they started to recognize that the other believed differently than they did. The moomp learned that floomps believed in free will, while the floomp learned that moomps did not.
The moomp understood why the floomp believed in free will. It was obvious to the moomp that the floomp was raised in an environment in which the free will belief was re-enforced. The floomp, per the moomp, was just a product of his circumstances, and the intuitive feeling of “free will” that the floomp had was never questioned in the floomps environment. It made perfect sense to the moomp, after all, in the history books moomps at one time believed in free will too.
But when the moomp tried to explain this to the floomp, the floomp became upset. How dare the moomp question the free will ability he and all other floomps had! The floomp stormed off in anger. The moomp, a little taken back by the abrupt attitude of the floomp, went back to his village as well.
In the floomp village a meeting was called to address the new found moomps. “Those moomps are, of their own free will, dis-believing in free will”, one cried out. “They just want to make excuses to do bad things!” another yelled. “The moomps are liars”, shouted another. The rest continued shouting back and forth…
“They could believe in free will, they just aren’t doing so!”
“Creatures that don’t believe in free will must be immoral!”
“They gotta be running rampant – lying, cheating, stealing, and murder! Doing whatever unethical thing they want!”
“Their village must be full of bad acts, they don’t believe in free will! They can do anything and get away with it!”
“Someone’s got to stop them! They are a threat to us. If they can make excuses for anything there is no telling what they will do!”
“Yeah, we must put a stop to the moomps!”
The floomp meeting continued on.
Back in the moomp village, the moomps too had a meeting to address what had happened. “I wonder what the main causal influence was for the floomps belief in free will?” said one. “It’s too bad, they just couldn’t get past the illusion,” said another. They continued on…
“The harms of free will belief must be placing a great burden on them.”
“I wonder how we can educate them in a progressive manner without too much of an abrupt impact?”
“There certainly is no blaming them for having this false belief, if we were them we’d think the same thing.”
The moomps went on trying to figure out the causes and addressed potential long term solutions for what they came across. An hour went by.
“Remember when we started moving away from the belief in free will? The fear mongering that happened due to incorrect intuitions?”
“I hope the floo…”
The moomps words were interrupted by a loud noise in the forest that surrounded their village. The sound grew and grew. “What is it?” asked one moomp. “I’m not sure,” said another. The moomps in the village became worried as the sound grew closer. From the tree-line of the forest they suddenly saw it. Hundreds of floomps with spears and other weapons screaming and running at them. The attack was quick and unexpected. The moomps lived in a village where peace and harmony was their normal state, and didn’t have the capacity to defend against such a large attack.
With every last moomp wiped out of existence, the floomps went back to their village, content that they wouldn’t ever have to worry about the immoral actions of a creature who doesn’t believe in free will.
Yes, I know this silly “story” is an over-dramatization – so don’t take it too seriously. The “moral” of the story, however, is reflective of the misconstrued understanding that a lack of free will leads to immoral behavior rather than a compassionate and a more egalitarian view. The story points to two extremes, one in which free will belief is taken very seriously (the floomps) and the other where the rational understanding of a lack of free will belief is taken seriously (the moomps). It’s also reflective of the fear mongering that happens when one side doesn’t truly understand the position and rationale of the other side, and the dangers that come along with that – such as preventing a more progressive society from forming (as in the case of the floomps).
The ability to blame others in the desert sense allows people to rationalize great inequalities with the very notion that some (in actuality) “deserve more” than others. It also leads to excessive punishment based on retributive ideology (the idea that someone deserves retribution).
The lack of free will belief, if one is truly educated on the topic, leads to a more compassionate creature. A creature that cares about the reasons others do what they do. A creature that looks for solutions for future fixes rather than simply looking at past actions and pointing fingers of blame. A creature not too unlike the moomps.
As humans, we truly need to move toward acting more like moomps and less like floomps. We can only hope to have such a causal path. Unlike the moomps, however, we need to recognize that floomp-like creatures may still exist and perhaps safeguard ourselves from them a little better. The causal history of the moomps led them to believe any other creatures would take the same rational path as they did. They were, unfortunately, taken by surprise.
For the logical reasons why free will is impossible, check out my book:
Also, if you like the cute pen and ink illustration of the floomp and the moomp at the top, take a look at some of my other silly and fun artwork here: TricksPlace.com
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