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If we send a whole bunch of people that are highly educated and all have a well-guided moral compass to a distant world,

  • No one commits any crime
  • There is no any mention of any crime

After a few generations, will that be a crime-free world?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by sphennings, Vincent, L.Dutch, Renan, Andon Mar 12 '18 at 6:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ It's easier. The most foolproof way to create a crime free world is to simply not have a legal system. No criminal legal system = no crimes. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 12 '18 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ Frontal lobotomies are good enough to accomplish that. (The thing that I find interesting about this question is not the question itself, but how mind numbingly difficult it is to pin down the wording for what one wants. That's one of the fun but brutally difficult parts of building any Utopia without it devolving into a dystopia). $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 12 '18 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ Question : Is a question really opinion based when all the different opinions amount to "no"? Seems like either our opinions are implausibly in sync or there is some underlying factor that would make for a valid answer. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 12 '18 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Although we might like to think otherwise, the definition of 'crime' is mostly arbitrary, with new crimes emerging and being defined or redefined continually. A crime needs to be recognised as a crime, first and, until recognised, cannot be considered one. Indeed, law-abiding individuals may not know they are committing a criminal act until they are told so - even then they may argue against it. A crime-free world may just be an unimaginative one, not necessarily a perfect or good one. $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon Mar 12 '18 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Yu Zhang: "Crimes" and "mean things" are non-identical sets. Some things that are crimes are quite pleasant, or at least some people enjoy them - prostitution, drug use, alcohol or women showing their face in some of the stricter Islamic countries. There are likewise plenty of mean things that are not only perfectly legal, but encouraged by laws. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 12 '18 at 18:02
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After a few generations, will that be a crime-free world?

I don't think so. Even if the moral compass was inheritable (nothing makes us think that it is), and there were no stressors or conflicts (really unlikely), this would probably simply mean that after some time, "crime" would get gradually redefined.

With no one anymore killed or even hit in anger, people would start looking suspiciously at lesser mischiefs.

Just as, once, killing a serf was not a crime but merely a misdemeanour, or a noble could rape a commoner's daughter and make restitution with a few coins, et cetera, in your brave new world perhaps one could be sentenced for offensive body odour, or arriving late at work, or littering, or not parking neatly inside the allotted spaces.

It is remotely possible that in such a world you would no longer have what we would think of as crimes. But it is equally possible that they would develop new customs that we would not approve of. Just as today most people would think nothing of lése majésté, impietas, or disrespecting the dead - all things that would have earned you a gruesome death just a couple of thousands of years ago - so these Utopians might approve of, say, pedophilia or ritual cannibalism.

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No. Crime and Sin are part of being human. To err is human and both of these are actually simply failures of a specific type. Or types, really.

Crime for example is a failure to comply with the laws (or equivalent social norms) accepted by others. This can be due to failure to understand the law or failure to understand the situation. The failure can be on the part of the perpetrator or the legislator. It can be due to ignorance or neglect, wilful or otherwise. Lots of options and factors. And of course the laws and rules themselves fall to different categories.

But that is really irrelevant. All you need to know is that the society is much more complex than any single human can comprehend. Consequently the rules governing societies are the same. While it is possible to minimize the formal written laws to simple sets of guidelines everyone can learn and understand, this would only increase the amount of personal interpretation required. Which increases the chance of failing to avoid violating the social norms badly enough for it to be a crime. This can be avoided by spelling out and properly defining the proper interpretations in formal laws or case law, but this increases the amount of study required to avoid failing to avoid crime.

Fundamentally it comes down to the effort you are willing to put on following the rules compared to the complexity of the situations you ran into. As long as you only have situations you are prepared to or can prepare with an amount of effort you are willing to expend, it is easy to avoid crime. So the critical factors are the commitment to rules and the amount of control and predictability people have over their life.

You kind of have the first covered, although it would still be subject to variation, but the second is an issue. Predicting the future is notoriously difficult. To be predictable to the point where crime never happens would mean that your life is pretty much predetermined. You are just a cog in a huge machine where everything fits together and works in perfect harmony. And if everyone voluntarily chose this, then, yes, you might have zero crime rate as everyone would always be "protected from temptation". And other forms of situations they are not ready for.

Sadly such static society is not really sustainable. And even if it was, we have no idea how to build such society without it failing. People have tried to plan such utopias, but such societies are very vulnerable to any kind of irregularities from within or from outside. As such they probably all devolve to corrupt and oppressive dictatorships of people protecting the state over time.

People will generally assume they can fix the system faster than it breaks, but this does not actually happen in such ordered states. The disturbances are chaotic and vary chaotically over the volume of society. They cannot be solved in a centralised fashion. And any local effort to maintain order only works if all the disturbances are fixable with local effort. If they are not the effort will simply make situation more chaotic and less controllable. Thus the central government will generally sharply limit local ability to mess things up. Which adds to laws you can violate and pushes society towards dictatorship. And makes it less stable.

In scifi it has been suggested that anarchic utopias relying on AI administration for coordination might be able to circumvent these issues. If true such society could be functionally crime free.

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Crime is defined by people. If nothing is illegal, then there is no crime.

For example, there's a the burka or hijab that women wear. In some countries it's actually illegal to wear them. Actually a crime. In others, it's illegal NOT to be covered if you are a woman.

I am thinking that you might mean not crime-free.

Are there any rules at all? Do people follow those rules all the time without question? If they don't follow those rules and there are any consequences that would be crime.

The question seems to assume that there are moral absolutes...it also assumes that no one is...creative.

Here in Florida we have a saying...laws exist because somebody did it.

Here's an example

In Destin, it is illegal for the owner of a store to allow a person to pass out free ducklings in front of the store.

I really don't know where a moral compass comes in on that one. But someone did it. And then someone else was annoyed enough that they made sure there was a specific RULE against it. Like a law.

For crime not to exist, these folks also have to not have rules.

As far as I'm concerned, any society where no one sees a law like that and doesn't immediately start thinking of reasons one might give out ducklings is society I am not behind. And if there is no crime, then either there are no laws (this includes stop signs) or everyone mindlessly follows every law to the letter.

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From my comments, you can see that one of the difficult parts of exploring a Utopia is defining it in the first place. It's astonishingly difficult to describe a culture that is exactly what you want, without it being either unattainable or devolving into a dystopia. The difficulty of such wording is one of the things that draws me to utopias.

I may, however, be able to help answer your question with an observation. My daughter, young as she is, struck me with a stick before she learned that striking people with sticks was wrong. So not knowing something is wrong does not necessarily mean you wont do it.

In a more abstract sense, many philosophers like Alan Watts (one of my personal favorites) argue that we can't see the light without the dark. We simply aren't aware of it without contrast. That can make the world you seek to create a tricky business indeed.

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The only way to make a world free of crime is to remove freewill. Perhaps a hive mind arrangement

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    $\begingroup$ There is one other way to make a crime-free world: Remove all the people. $\endgroup$ – Andon Mar 12 '18 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ True. No crime on the moon..... $\endgroup$ – Thorne Mar 12 '18 at 3:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne: Nope. Several space probes have been deliberately crashed into the moon, which is littering :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 12 '18 at 18:04
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Plato mentions in the Republic (473d-e)

Unless, said I, either philosophers become kings in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously and adequately, and there is a conjunction of these two things, political power and philosophic intelligence, while the motley horde of the natures who at present pursue either apart from the other are compulsory excluded, there can be no cessation of troubles, dear Glaucon, for our states, nor, I fancy, for the human race either.

In this part of peace is a person's ability to overcome what motivates crime.

Also with mention of Cort Ammon's great answer children, and infants who don't have a proper understanding of laws are liable to commit them even with strong morals.

A development of this is to have less laws as when people start having the fundamental ability to not harm/ damage others less are needed as the ideas are inherent so this could aid the younger children to obey the law, or perhaps a system that doesn't put them in these situations.

Another issue may be a person's impairment or inability to understand laws/ morals, so having flexible legislature may be needed so they are assisted and can live a reasonable life.

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You cant really make a world where crime doesn't exist, you could only make a world where criminals don't exist. Crime is subjective to the culture that defines it and there will ALWAYS be at least a small subset of a population who are not willing to act within the guidelines set forth by society. Crime simply cannot be halted completely, but if you simply "euthanized" anyone the moment they willfully committed any sort of crime what so ever then crime would be very very rare and society would not have any criminals for much longer than it takes to get to them and kill them. Except now you are headed into dystopian territory.....

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