21
$\begingroup$

Imagine you're an all powerful god and you want to reduce the likelihood for unsavory behavior like crime, war, and disaster capitalism.

Without taking away free will, or micro managing all actions - what sort of objectives would you prioritize and then how would you magically enforce them?

Example: No-Game-No-Life god implemented a system where any physical aggression would start a game where the win was enforced magically. This did not however create equity or stop predatory behavior from being part of the world dynamics.

I'm looking for an answer that gets to the root of why non-consensual forms of power are hard to police, and suggests a novel way to steer anyone away from that behavior. I'm looking for aggregate behavioral shifts. The challenge and contingency is that your answer cannot take away free will.

What global aspects need to be influenced? What methods would be most effective in implementing those influences? Feel free to pull from fictional or real world examples to make a case.

$\endgroup$
12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you the god using this magic and not the people? Or can everyone use magic? $\endgroup$
    – Kezat
    Aug 16 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ Remove the motivations for war and it will likely be rare. For example, wars are often fought over the allocation of scarce resources. As a god I assume I could subtly deal with scarcity without impacting free will. $\endgroup$
    – JonSG
    Aug 16 at 14:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this question predicated on the "subjects" being human, or indistinguishable from humans? $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Aug 16 at 14:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KalleMP This will not work for humans, though, as they are not rational beings. Humans as rational beings exist only in economics and some poorly written fiction. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Aug 16 at 19:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "but I'm curious if say a world where everyone is dolphins would actually resolve this." Nope, dolphins are assholes too. They're notorious gang rapists, beat up on porpoises for fun and will kill baby dolphins so that the mother is ready for sex quicker. You don't want a dolphin society, trust me. $\endgroup$
    – Corey
    Aug 17 at 10:35

22 Answers 22

24
$\begingroup$

Dying Curses

There is a long and culturally almost universal tradition of a dying person (without any magical abilities) being able to make a righteous curse against those who are responsible for their death. That is, "I curse you with my dying breath".

Oddly, I know of no magic/fantasy stories, series, movies and hardly any RPG game-system that have ever taken this concept up as a primary element of their magic system. I have long thought that the primary reason that no media source wants to touch this culturally widespread trope is because it would make many of the premises of their stories untenable: That is powerful evil forces being opposed by a plucky individual/band doesn't work because those powerful evil forces would've been death-cursed into irrelevance long ago. In short, if you give this much power to the otherwise powerless people, the world suddenly has to pay attention to them and respect them.

Specifically then, in this world the most powerful magic is a righteous curse made by a dying person against those responsible for their unjust death. "righteous" here means that the person(s) being cursed does actually bear some real responsibility for the person's death, and that death must, to some degree, be an unjust death. It will be up to you to determine what the boundaries of that might be, but probably, a case like getting shot by a guard while trying to steal something (that was not rightfully the thief's) would not count. Thus you could specify that innocent guards, honest cops and soldiers defending the (just) borders of their country, probably would not be susceptible to such curses. Further, they themselves may be justified in making their own death-curses should they fall in the line of duty.

There is no magic in this world that can counter or undo such a powerful curse (except possibly some kind of reformation and quest of redemption). It is also up to you to determine what form these curses take: whether they are always just generic (but powerful) cases of very bad fortune or if the person invoking the dying-curse can customize it to a specific nature. But in any case, these curses should be cumulative, that is though even a single curse is significantly bad, the more death-curses laid on someone, the worse they become.

$\endgroup$
11
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ I upvoted this, but at the same time curses are intrinsically hurtful, and only those prone to hate/not to forgive will benefit. Society grinds to a halt as every important person is cursed by someone with a grudge. A religious person righteously curses Copernicus for his obscenities (suppressing free speech), and a dying Taliban fighter curses the US president for their unjust action (so any fanatical group believing in themselves is powerful). Soon everyone is afraid of public action for fear of the consequences as someone takes mortal offense. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 16 at 14:55
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ The Dresden Files series has death curses, however only mages get to use them. The answer to that problem is to take out mages with a snipers bullet to the head. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 14:57
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus Your criticisms do not seem to reflect what I have written. Please note the use of the words "dying", "righteous" and "unjust". Mere "grudges" are not something empowered by the death-curses that I have described. Copernicus never caused anyone's death, let alone an unjust one and cursing his innocent and honest work for what others may have done about it certainly is not righteous. What I proposed above does not allow equating "self-righteous" with actual righteousness. ... $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 15:12
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If the god directly chooses who's curse is accepted, I would upvote that - although then the god could be directly delivering the curses and skipping the middle-man (which arguably takes away free will). I'm not saying it's a bad answer, only that a GOOD answer to this question is REALLY hard. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 16 at 15:24
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus It's the OPs world, the OP determines what constitutes true righteousness, not individuals, corporations, nations, religions or other groups. The magic system is just the mechanics that implements it. And saying "curse you" as you die takes no real thought or planning. And again, this proposal has very strong guard rails, you have to be dying, your death must be unjust, you can only curse someone responsible for it, and it must be righteous. Otherwise it has no effect. ... $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 15:28
8
$\begingroup$

Many buddhists posit that the self is an illusion. Long story short, according to them the whole notion of self is the source of all human suffering.

If you wish everybody in your world to be selfless, you may very well break the illusion of self for the people in your own world. How you go about this is up to you... Maybe everybody shares a single hive mind, maybe they just share feelings so that when one of them hurts, everybody hurts. But as long as causing suffering immediatelly brings onto the causer just as much suffering and everybody is aware of that, your people should chill.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Forced empathy is a great idea. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 16:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower" has people with "hyper-empathy". That might be interesting background. $\endgroup$
    – dbn
    Aug 16 at 17:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A hive mind sounds a bit excessive. Just give everyone a pinch of empathy and critical thinking skills and that should already basically eliminate crime, war and greed. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 17 at 5:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Stanislaw Lem wrote a short story about (very human-like) robots attempting world peace. They went for powerful empathy. It had some odd side-effects: anyone having sex immediately got a crowd of people trying to share the feeling (and judging the couple on their performance); and a robot with a toothache soon had bystanders yanking out the poor robot's teeth, in an attempt to remove the painful tooth. It was... better... but not entirely peaceful. $\endgroup$ Aug 18 at 6:47
7
$\begingroup$

Anything that would make the world more like the technological magic of today.

I assume your setting is somewhere in the medieval period, then you can look at a graph like this one https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-across-western-europe?time=1300..2016 and see that homicide rates in Europe decreased 50 fold since 1300. I think you will also agree that Europe is now fairly peaceful compared to how it was in the last centuries.

Therefore I'd suggest that your magic system does the same thing that technology does. It should be learnable by anyone. It should allow for the easy creation of food and shelter so that hunger becomes a solved problem. It should allow for increased health and particularly reduce child mortality. And it should enable engaging and accessible forms of entertainment.

I think that would be enough ingredients to lead to a form of government and peaceful existence that we have today, but it might also end up as final stage capitalism... If you want to go a step beyond, you can make your magic system scale super-linearly with the number of people conjuring a "good" spell and sub-linear scaling for "bad" spells. This means that a community of people acting in harmony will be mathematically optimal and given enough time that's exactly what will happen. For example say it takes a thousand people to erect a defensive magic barrier, but it takes a million people to break it for an invasion; this will quickly make wars futile.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 18 at 7:20
5
$\begingroup$

This would not be easy to flesh out by any means, but how about a system of magic where the magic is powered by truth and altruism? Working out how this might work won't be easy, but with this type of system all magic would fail when its used for anything that doesn't benefit humanity. So healing, creating food, and building things would be easy to accomplish using magic, but harming people or waging war would be impossible. This would also create a dynamic where magic could be easily used to defend yourself against any type of weapon, so you could easily build a society that sees violence of any type as simply being pointless because magic could be used to perfectly protect everyone from any kind of violence.

This could create a society where magic solves every single problem that arises, thus creating a sort of utopian civilization where altruism gives everyone the power to protect themselves from any form of violence without being able to be violent themselves. Their entire society could be based upon improving the lives of others, so peace would be a natural side-effect of how their society functions. Violence and war could even be considered alien concepts beyond their ability to comprehend because from birth they are taught that the only way to have any kind of power is to be altruistic and use that power to the benefit of everyone.

Anyone who wants to use power to conquer, will need to use brute strength or technology to attain that power, but it would be useless against the magical defense capabilities of anyone who accepts the altruism-based magical power and uses it to make the world a better place for everyone.

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

This is boring for a Story, but basically unlimited "resources".

If magic allowed everyone to have everything they want, there would be no need for conflict. Now, Humans are also a resource. Some people, might want to have slaves.

To solve that, your magic must be able to create "fake" humans, that would be indistinguishable from real humans, but not be alive/conscious.

The easiest solution for all of this, is that magic allows every human to have his own personal Virtual Reality in his mind, while his body is in a safe stasis.

You could go for a less perfect system, with "just" easier access to material resources. One of those systems, like mentioned in another answer, is basically our modern world. You can add on to that. Maybe food and shelter is unlimited. Maybe there are pocket dimensions, so land is unlimited.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Post Scarcity via Magic rather than technology. $\endgroup$
    – Jontia
    Aug 17 at 15:16
3
$\begingroup$

Ways to help:

Magic that is defensive in nature. You can't blast with fireballs, but you can protect against napalm.

Magical defenses against theft. Ways that honestly obtained property can be identified.

Magical ways to detect truth vs lies.

Magical objects that can serve as just judges and enforce judgments. Alternatively, public servants voluntarily take a magically binding oath to do justice-- though even if they can walk away at any time, that may fall afoul of your freedom constraint.

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Good start but be cautious : Physical magic shield can crush enemies or prevent them from moving away from an hazard, making them dangerous. You also have to check on what "just" and "justice" means to make the best peaceful situations. Not all people have the same sense of it :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 16 at 13:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's a tough issue, because these things also prevent revolution against tyrants - the state can stop fighting, protect the rich from theft, reveal the truth of plotters. And magically binding public servants directly takes away their free will (and "justice" is so hard to define). But I still haven't come up with an answer myself, so I can't say too much... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 16 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Offensive magic remains offensive even if it has some defensive applications. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Aug 16 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ The question was how to prevent crime and war, not how to allow it when people are labeled "tyrants" or "rich." Especially since corruption would also fall under the just judges will deal with. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Aug 16 at 21:39
3
$\begingroup$

Since we're looking at a method a deity could steer people away from bloodshed and not necessarily eliminating it entirely:

Luck Manipulation

Simply put, if you attempt to do things that benefit others, the odds will tend greatly to your favour. If you intend harm unto others, your fortune will swing the other way.

Say you're growing crops to feed your poverty stricken neighbours, the magic of this world will all but ensure good seasons and an abundance of good produce. Try and steal all of the food for yourself and luck will turn on you. The evening you try to break in will just happen to be the one the farmer happens to take an impromptu stroll, your thieving equipment will in all likelihood break and/or there'll just happen to be an exposed tree root that's difficult to spot that causes you to trip and break your ankle.

People truly determined to harm others may find a way do so anyway, but crimes motivated by greed, lust or desire for power would become almost impossible to pull off successfully. And moreover, the good fortune that accompanies kind deeds would seem the more convenient road to wealth and influence.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Empathy in a powerful and compelling form

@LSerno's answer comes closest to this, but differs.

Suppose a god could ratchet up empathy. You meet or spend time with another living being (person or animal) and you feel how they feel. Make that, but intense enough to be compelling.

This isnt entirely fictional either. There are plenty of people who feel/pick up on others emotions and in effect not just have a sense of them conceptually, but actually feel them in their own neurology. Its commonplace in very intense emotional situations - to take a dark example, if a child is in terror and agony and screaming, their parent will often feel uncontrollably rouched by that sense of terror/pain and unable to not rush to help and fix it. Equally when a lover smiles and feels happy, so often their partner picks up on it and feels that emotion too. So it's not exactly scifi or "woo-woo".

My suspicion is that if empathy was inescapable - of you literally couldn't do a thing without feeling for real, in yourself, how the other/s in the interaction felt or would feel, then you'd learn early in life to avoid anything if possible that would be at the least, avoidably hurtful to others.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Two things in people's perceptions:

Strengthen pair-bonding between partners in relationships. Arguably love exerting it's influence is a loss of a measure of free will already, taking that a little further will increase successful relationships, forestall jealous rages caused by infidelity and have the effect of increasing the emotional balance and well-being of offspring. This will inevitably lead to greater community harmony.

Decrease the suspicion of outsiders/increase the acceptance of a wide variety of customs and styles of art and language. This should lead to less tribalism in general, fewer misunderstandings between people of different cultural backgrounds - and fewer wars, if diplomatic communications are improved as a result.

I guess that makes it "magic of the heart" or illusion as sceptics might posit.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

None

If your hypothetical god is devoted to the idea of not micromanaging the people of your world, and of not taking away their free will, and wants a magic system which maximizes peace, or at least minimizes the abuses to which magic would be put, the correct magic system in the world is none at all.

If people use mere material objects in creatively violent ways, from stick and clubs up to nuclear weapons, or even hot and cold, hunger and sleep loss, to war and to dominate and control each other, can you imagine how much creativity they would put into abusing each other with magic?

Unless the magic is an intelligent participant which itself actively puts a finger on the scale of how it is used (and then you're effectively back to your god, or your god's proxy, micro-managing), any solution will be open to abuse and corruption.

Divination which lets defenders know how and when they are going to be attacked also lets attackers know weaknesses in the defenses - or even who would be corruptible to turn on their allies! A global social credit system, displaying who has been the most "good" would likely require very active management (thus failing the not-micromanaging rule), as well as requiring people know that the score is accurate. "Yes, it says I have the kind of score a murderer would have. But what if the system is broken? Can you prove that I actually murdered anyone?" Additionally, bad people might be able to recognize "kindred spirits", who would be natural allies against those trying to be "good".

Defensive magic could defend the evil from just reprisal just as well as the just from the evil. (As has been pointed out by others.)

Even enhancing compassion may backfire (even if you could argue that it doesn't trample on free will) - because it is our compassion for the victim who was trespassed against which fuels our hatred for the transgressor, perhaps even out of proportion with the crime!

Ultimately, the only magic system which could not be abused is no magic system at all.

(Although that's a really boring answer.)

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ upvoting because this is an interesting answer, it was at negative 1 with no comment. This definitely addresses the question; if you feel compelled to downvote explain why, please. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, and any magic that allows you to exercise your free will restricts that same exercise in those who oppose you to whatever degree the magic affects the outcome of that conflict. $\endgroup$
    – JAQFrost
    Aug 18 at 4:44
2
$\begingroup$

How about some sort "physical" karma manifestation?

  • If you magically do something evil, evil critters will materialise to impart you some kind of retribution based on what you just did (simple example, you hit someone, an elemental spirit manifests to hit right back at you,

  • If you do something good, you are somewhat praised (up to you to decide how though, nothing comes to mind)

In this way not only you are discouraged to use magic for evil deeds because you have to face the consequences immediately and proportionately to your action, but also you are encouraged to do good.

I used 'karma' but you can use whatever you want, just something that interacts directly with your soul, so that the intentions behind the actions are clear.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Magical feedback.

"The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own: you are he" is a traditional Vulcan saying attributed to the philosopher Surak.

Your omnipotent god might then decide to make this literal. If you cause harm, you feel that harm. You can commit homicide, but at the cost of your own life. On the other hand, do good, and feel good. By loving someone, you add to their health and well-being, and those loving you give you the same benefit.

This effect appears (technologically, but being Clarke, it can be considered magic) in Childhood's End by A. C. Clarke - when the Overlords declare they won't stand for cruelty to animals, and ban bullfights:

The Plaza de Toros was full when the matadors and their attendants began their professional entry. Everything seemed normal: the brilliant sunlight blazed harshly on the traditional costumes, the great crowd greeted its favourites as it had a hundred times before. Yet here and there faces were turned anxiously towards the sky, to the aloof silver shape fifty kilometres above Madrid. Then the picadores had taken up their places and the bull had come snorting out into the arena. [...] The first lance flashed - made contact - and at that moment came a sound that had never been heard on Earth before.

It was the sound of ten thousand people screaming with the pain of the same wound - ten thousand people who, when they recovered from the shock, found themselves completely unharmed. But that was the end of that bull-fight, and indeed of all bull-fighting, for the news spread rapidly.

By the same token, being hated or loathed effectively shortens one's lifespan. Something like this - way more drastic - appears in Damon Knight's A Reasonable World:

Well, he was a SOB; he could afford to be one, and it came natural, so why not? "Pinky" he told the AI "there was something on the news about rudeness, last week sometime." In the holo, a local anchor appeared. "A wave of unexplained deaths in Eastern cities has a few scientists worried. Like earlier victims apparently killed by symbionts, they were mostly men between the ages of thirty-five and sixty, but unlike those earlier deaths, there is no evidence that they were about to commit any act of violence. They were, however, all said to be extremely rude and overbearing persons, who made everyone around them miserable. In other news - "

Once the link between do unto others and what will get done unto you gets absorbed, from the earliest age, war, crime and negative behaviours will become marginal.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Divination

Crime only works when it can be kept secret. Wars of aggression become a lot harder to pull off successfully if your intended victim knows you're coming and what your tactics will be. Many of the worst market abuses are only possible due to the exploitation of information asymmetry.

If you want to incentivize peace in a society, hand out divination magic like Halloween candy. Make it hard to keep secrets and easy to uncover them. This will end up creating a civilization where openness and mutual trust is considered normal.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING: Enough divination will result in a surveillance state where no one has privacy and those in power see everyone's secrets. This favors existing authority with things to protect, as they monitor any form of rebellion. A thief stealing a loaf of bread to stay alive is detected and their hand cut off. The authorities admittedly can't keep secrets, so they must be up-front about their brutal repression, "Rebel and we will know about it beforehand and kill you." $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 16 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus That's what happens if there's not enough divination, when "those in power" are able to monopolize it. If the common man is just as capable of using such magic as the King or the Minister of Information, you get a very different dynamic. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ A common man with no power and little to protect might know the state and the rich are oppressing them, but is divination going to give them the ability to know how to overthrow the government? You can't deceive people, but most people in oppressive societies either already know they are being oppressed, or they believe in the principles of the society (theocracy, communism, divine right of kings). Does divination reveal intrinsic truth (the will of God, for example)? $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 16 at 15:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus How do you establish a secret police force to oppress the people, when they can't keep it secret? How does someone with oppression in their heart become wealthy enough to put their dark desires into action without doing things they don't want people to find out about? The first rule of worldbuilding is consistency: when you change the rules around one thing, it should impact other related things as well. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ You appear to be thinking about what things would be like if we were to "take Earth and change one thing." I'm saying, if conditions had been different from the start, what we'd arrive at looks very different from Earth. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 15:34
1
$\begingroup$

A global available ranking system

Provide for every person a score depending on their deeds and make this score available to everybody on request. For example cheering up a friend gives 1 point, giving a meal to a beggar 3, splashing a person on purpose while driving by -2, torture -1000000. Set the numbers in a way that if several good and bad deeds cancel each other there is still a net gain in niceness and peace. It should be made clear to everybody what kind of points to expect for which deed. Make it possible for every person on the world to access all scores by magic. One would not need to know the name or another specification to get the score shown. It is enough for the magic to understand of whom the value is desired (e.g. the woman on the other side of the street, the leader of our country). Also provide any desired graphical or statistical evaluation of the scores.

This would allow to compare candidates for offical functions in a reliable way. False accusations might also be found out much more easily for large negative deeds if there is no significant score change of the accused person and if the score of the accusant drops. This will also strengthen correct accusations as the delinquents would have to somehow hide their bad deeds by doing lots of good ones in secret and it will be clear that the accusants believe their claim.

Additionally people are quite a bit competive. Seeing that your neighbor scores higher than you can provide some additional incentive to do good.

One could also provide a score for nations (and other groups like firms). Claiming that a war is just is really hard if starting it drops the nations score in the red numbers. And one can always check which country is currently the most righteous one in the name of the god thus also leading to some competition in the right direction.

As there is no list of the deeds taken into considerations (except if requested for oneself) it cannot be used to spy but it still allows to identify villains and saints without any doubt.

$\endgroup$
7
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds extremely dystopian. China has citizen scores, so there's that... $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 17 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @NotThatGuy a god could presumably make a better system than a group of humans trying to maintain dictatorial control. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ Just a brainstorm--super rich guy gives tons to charity and only occasionally rapes people, keeps himself way up in the green. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ @msouth Same basic idea. Either way citizens are being watched all the time (even if not by other humans), they permanently put on a facade because they're afraid to do anything whatsoever that might hurt their ranking in society and people judge one another based on some criterion that's been handed down to them and marked as important by an authority figure. Sounds like a pretty standard dystopia. It would probably improve things to just make it like a binary green/red, but that's probably still exploitable and we already have something roughly like that: the criminal justice system. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 18 at 7:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I feel like we're still in the territory of effectively reducing free will here. In the current world I have the freedom to do a thing (good or bad, actually) that it's possible no one on earth will ever know about. And introducing an omniscient good-o-meter, even if it can only be accessed with a court order, removes that possibility. I'm in an argument on another question here about free will vs effective free will, and this is another example, I guess. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 13:50
1
$\begingroup$

Mutually Assured Destruction

There is a very simple magic spell which allows the caster to kill a person and anyone that person loves. But the spell has a weakness: It allows the target of the spell a couple minutes to decide if they want the same thing to happen to the person who cast the spell and kill them and their loved ones too.

That means using this spell would be a surefire way to eliminate someone you hate, but also suicidal. The only people who would ever use this spell are those who were brought in such a desperate situation that they have nothing to lose anymore and no other viable goal in life except revenge.

Which means it would be a very bad idea in this world to bring anyone into such a situation. Starting a war and thus causing countless people to lose everything because of you would make it very likely to end up at the receiving end of such a spell. It would also prohibit lots of other abuses of power which could leave one or more people desperate and with nothing to lose.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

A village/ city building game.

People who become leaders can very quickly use resources to build up cities and settlements and empires. There are harsh penalties for war, as it's not a war magic system, and crime.

If people can use diplomacy and trade and negotiation to advance they can advance much faster than if they hurt others, and there's no city options for building barracks or warlike things.

In a city, there are also harsh penalties to individuals who are antisocial.

In addition, defensive measures are very cheap. It's much easier to turtle up than to wage war.

Philosophy bonuses.

Libraries are an easy to set up building, and in each library there are lots of books on philosophy and morals and religion.

Any person can read them to learn morals. They can gain substantial boosts and improvements from learning such things and fulfilling ethics related quests.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

A few thoughts:

This is a REALLY hard question to get right, so I'm not sure if there IS one answer to the question. But since the desire is to set up magic that slowly shifts society, I have a few thoughts. Thank you, everyone, for helping me process my thoughts on this one (sorry for the annoying comments).

  • Teleport away from danger: A spell exists that causes people to teleport away from immanent physical harm. It is typically automatic, so a person about to be stabbed vanishes and reappears elsewhere (details to be determined). A visible magical residual is left behind when this happens, so people can see the person teleported away. A murderer is covered in the equivalent of a dye pack, making it hard to pretend they had nothing to do with a murder attempt.
  • Immunity from coercion: A spell similar to a geas exists that compels the person (voluntarily) casting this on themselves to defy any attempt to coerce their behavior. Once a person decides to use this, they must feel free of coercion before they can perform an action. The ultimate act needing freedom would be undoing the geas.
  • Divine warning label: Your god actively involves itself with people, but only in an advisory nature regarding magic. If a person will use magic that decreases the freedom of another, a cherub shows up and tells them they are defying the best interests of the person they are casting at. So a person cannot claim to be working in someone else's best interests, but they are not stopped from doing so.
  • Obfuscation: This prevents others from spying on a person or monitoring their thoughts. It is automatically broken by intent to harm others. The intent is determined by the user, so if they actively plan (not just think angry thoughts) to harm others, it dispels.
  • Birth control: Freedom from unwanted pregnancy is critical for women's freedom (thx RonJohn). All people are infertile unless they personally desire to be fertile. This can't be coerced - they must desire to have children before they can. Threatening a woman that they need to have children doesn't work. This is so basic to the magic system that anyone who can cast automatically has this applied (no choice - yes, that's ironic).
  • Household sprites: This magic makes basic labor easy. Happy worker sprites manifest and do work for people. This is not universal, so people must still control the sprites (a couple of nobles can't eliminate their work force and summon an army of sprites, but the workers can perform other tasks). The caster must be happy to perform this spell, so forcing them to work disrupts the magic. Employers keep employees happy so as to increase the productivity of the sprites. Excess drugs and alcohol also disrupt the spell.
  • Protection from starvation: Thx csiz for the starting point of this one. While not stopping hunger, this prevents starvation. people may not have enough to eat, but they do have enough to survive. So no one can starve to death, but it isn't pleasant (providing a motive to work/produce food). This also helps counteract the reduction in fertility due to the birth control magic.
  • Spells causing harm must have a good reason: Any spell capable of causing harm to others (as determined by the god or angels) is powered by kindness and mercy. The only people who can practice this "black magic" are the kindest, gentlest people (and thus the ones least likely to be able to use it). So an angry dog is driven away from attacking a child, while a killer is powerless to harm a fly. Alternatively, these are conjuration spells (requiring an interceding divine being) who can then exercise their divine judgement as to the justification of the spell and how it is carried out.
  • Universal magic: Everyone gains access to some or all of these basic spells at puberty. Fancy stuff will require additional practice but not special knowledge, and even fancy spell casting shouldn't be able to interfere with these basic abilities.

Nothing short of coercing the nature of people will stop all magic from being abused. But fundamentally, you are giving control of their own reality to individuals. To thine own self be true.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

An armed society is a polite society.

If you look at all of the mechanisms by which robbery, rape, and murder are conducted nowadays, you will see that in most cases the perpetrator has the upper hand when it comes to brute force.

So you institute a magic system where everybody has the same ability to put the hurt on someone.

This raises the risk of the aggressive use of force to the point that the people electing to use it either change their minds or their criminal career is cut short when an intended victim turns the tables on them.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ so you get a gang together, whoever has the bigger gang wins? $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ You knocked the straw quite a ways with that one... $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Sep 11 at 5:32
0
$\begingroup$

I think a big part of violence between country, ethnic groups, companies, and even indiviuals that is happening right now due to the inequality of access to resources. Food, shelter are the most basic, follow by clothing. There is thing thing I read in this journal that says the five basic need is "survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun" [Our Five Basic Needs: Application for Understanding the Function of Behavior]. Even if you place restriction in people's behavior, they would still try to find loopholes to exploit. (Just like what Jedediah said). So if your god can use magic to fulfill these needs, people will have less need to fight each other.

Some example will be:

Enough food for everyone to have more than just "barely not hungry" feeling in their stomache.

Enough shelter for everyone to have a roof over their head.

Enough raw material to supply people's need.

Enough energy.

That being said, there might still be conflict even in post-scarcity world. (Example being the world of Gundam 00). In that case, you need to support people who champions seeking mutual comprehension and promoting love and peace. This method follows your rule because it is not your god that is doing the social engineering, it is the selected champions.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Grant all humans telempathy (tele-empathy). It will have three manifestations:

  • a short ranged, constant broadcast and reception that cannot be suppressed. Humans cannot stop themselves from feeling the emotions of the people around them.

  • a longer ranged targeted transmission to the person who caused another to experience an emotion. The jackass who cuts across 6 lanes of traffic because they haven't technically missed their exit will have empirical evidence that dozens or scores of people are somewhere between annoyed and terrified thanks to their jackassery. This requires that the sender sincerely believe in the moment that the recipient is responsible for the emotion being communicated, and can't be used deceptively.

  • a global, extremely focused query of one person the user can see and hear, e.g. a "Live" TV broadcast or Internet stream (transmission lag and delays handwaved because I'm God in this senario), so politicians and pundits cannot knowingly lie effectively to their constituency.

Lying becomes functionally impossible. The very idea of a conspiracy becomes absurd. Hurting others becomes counterintuitive, because one is also hurting oneself. The anguish of one's fellow humans becomes undeniable, because that anguish is present in one's own mind. Perpetrators feel their victim's distress and the scrutiny of bystanders, who themselves are more likely to take action when they know they aren't the only ones who know something is wrong. Moral justifications of inequitable structures wither in the face of the undeinable convictions of those harmed by them. Humans are forced to acknowledge the humanity of their fellow humans.

Over time, people learn what things hurt the people around them, and stop doing those things. Some romantic relationships fall apart, others form with unprecedented openess and honesty. Discourse becomes less acrimonious, as the sincerity of all participants is above reproach. Misunderstandings become increasingly rare, and accidentally harms are easily forgiven. Society becomes increasingly equitable; helping others literally feels good. Humans ultimately adopt a philosophy of doing minimal harm, while working to eliminate or minimize harms previously thought inevitable. Within a generation, world peace breaks out as the first adults who were born with telempathy abandon tribalism and nationalism.

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ Lying is an act of free will (in our current universe). Isn't making lying impossible violating the "don't violate free will" constraint? Similar question about automatic empathy--I'm pretty sure I could use my will, right now, to suppress my empathy. In a hypothetical world where I could not do this I would lose the free will to make that choice. (I'm not just trying to be negative or pick on your answer here, btw--I just think it's really hard to come up with a way to change behavior that doesn't impact free will.) $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ @msouth No to both. A person can choose to tell a falsehood, its just that no one will believe them. This is no different than bad liars. And as to supressing your empathy, thats my point. You can't turn your senses off. You can close your eyes or cover your ears, but you can't just stop accepting input. Tele-empathy is another sense. In the real world, I would prefer to be able to fly under my own power. The laws of the universe preclude this. That doesnt abrogate my free will any more than a girl I like refusing to date me does. $\endgroup$
    – Dallium
    Aug 18 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ We don't think of it like that, because physics isn't something someone imposes on us, but it certainly limits what we can do with our free will. And if a god is tweaking the physics to make it harder to do X or Y it's even clearer that it is an imposition on will. I think. In every sense that matters, if our current physics allowed me to teleport at will, I would have "freer will" even if it's just the physics that's letting me have it. If the physics of our world changed such that you could not move more than 2 miles per hour, I think that you would consider yourself way less free. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ @msouth No, no, free will is binary. You either have it, or you do not. Its the "power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion." Changing the choices that are available doesn't abrogate free will. $\endgroup$
    – Dallium
    Aug 18 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that is a very useful idea of free will. A person living in a 10x10 cell in solitary confinement has, certainly, the free will to think (although they will almost certainly lose that to a great extent), but their free will is definitely curtailed by imposed physical constraints. Maybe I should say "effective free will"--whatever you term it, it's the only free will that matters except in the most esoteric sense. $\endgroup$
    – msouth
    Aug 18 at 13:53
0
$\begingroup$

Many answers focus on taking something away, like taking away the freedom to lie or the freedom to not think about how our actions impact others. I kind of think all of these are, in some sense, "cheating" in the free will department. They effectively remove a choice we have in the current world (I'm assuming you're using the current human world as a baseline.)

The answers that are more about providing more options or things, I think, are closer to the mark, I'm just afraid that they might be mostly boring from a story/worldbuilding standpoint.

So, I am pretty sure that simply tweaking your world's natural environment in such a way that

  • food is plentiful,
  • predators are weak or uninterested in humans,
  • the temperature and weather are always moderate enough that shelter is never a life-or-death concern or maybe even not that big of a comfort concern

would significantly reduce motivation to commit crimes like trespass, theft of food, etc. And all of these things also make the world more boring from a story standpoint, I think.

So, if we had all this in our current world, we might still fight about who gets to live on the beach or by the river or on the lake.

I wonder if you might get something interesting where one thing the god does is simply this: make it easy to leave a society and start over somewhere else. All of the above--shelter no big deal, gathering food and defense from predators trivial, etc, would contribute to this. But one thing that could really reduce conflict would be if you could just take the people that agree with you about how society should be and go do your own thing without a huge cost. In our world with finite arable/desirable land and difficulties in having reliable food sources and shelter and such, that's practically impossible to do.

But your world doesn't need to have that restriction. Maybe your world is the Mandelbrot set, and your people can just shrink down and find a very similar place to where they were just living but without the neighbors that were playing loud music at night.

A great deal of conflict could be avoided if it was easy to collect the likeminded and easily leave and resume your society without the un-likeminded. A fractal landscape is one possibility but portals to other equally livable planets or a planet that just kept growing and spawning new, equally fertile and equally temperate and equally surfable space; or any magical element that allowed trivial resettlement on uncontested land.

Stories are usually about conflict and this would reduce conflict. But maybe the conflicts that do come up, in the absence of our current conflicts, would be interesting. Think about social media--people find things to fight over, like reach and reputation and each other's attention and so on and it's essentially completely free form and resource-scarcity free. So maybe that's what becomes interesting; what do people yearn for and, eventually, fight over when basic necessities are abundant.

$\endgroup$
-2
$\begingroup$

Expand Gender Identity

Some feminist thinkers argue that crime, war, and capitalism flow from a social system that effectively forces people with male or female bodies to identify only as a man or a woman. Those identifying as men receive a higher status, a kind of caste system requiring unnatural violence to sustain, which is enacted through social institutions and cultural affirmations. In this world, men must compete and dominate in order to maintain their privileged status, and crimes and direct violence often result from failure to do so, both within intimate relationships between castes and among men themselves.

Using this idea, an all-powerful deity might prevent people from viewing themselves as men and women all together, and instead as individuals of many possible genders (including men and women). Doing so might ease the tension those of the men-caste feel, the violence those of the women-caste feel, reduce crime, and allow for exploration of many new ways of being and co-existing.

$\endgroup$
9
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Some feminist thinkers argue" doesn't make it so. Even though the "all-powerful deity might prevent people from viewing themselves as men and women all together", people are going to see that the half of people who have Tab A between their legs happen to be on average taller, stronger, more violent, and stupider+smarter, while the other half have Slot B between their legs, wobbly things protruding from their chests and the only one who can bear children and feed babies. That's going to cause serious cognitive dissonance. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Given this identity assumption, we could argue non-physical concepts of violence and intelligence as being male (Tab A) could be a product of this social system. Physical characteristics like height or strength is a good consideration. Considering a full distribution of people on physical qualities, there's significant variation within both men or women in height, muscle mass, etc, and much overlap. Given this variation, cognitive dissonance in this multi-gendered society acculturated by birth (i.e. that many genders are possible), appears unlikely. I see no solution to childbirth, good point $\endgroup$
    – Morgan
    Aug 16 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ "and much overlap" the Intelligence normal curves for men and women have the same median, but bell curve for women is taller and narrower than the male distribution: fewer geniuses, but also fewer idiots. The bell curves for men and women on agreeableness, height, muscle mass, bone thickness and violence are the same shape but SHIFTED RIGHT for men. Thus, men dominate the extremes of "bigness" and "disagreeableness". That's why there are 100x more men in prisons than women. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ "we could argue non-physical concepts of violence and intelligence as being male (Tab A)". Apparently, my euphemism wasn't clear: Tab A = penis, and Slot B = vagina. At birth, 99.97% of people have indisputably identifiable genitals. Even taking into account conditions which manifest later in life (usually puberty, 98.3% of humans identify as what their naked bodies look like to other people. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, @RonJohn is spouting rubbish. Men are bigger and stronger then women because humans, like gorillas have a reproductive strategy of mate isolation. Chimps genders are the same size. Why? Because chimps compete genetically via sperm, they don't need size to keep other males away. Just sexytime, and the top chimp becomes the dad. Male chimps ARE however significantly more aggressive than female chimps. The burden of territorial control for pack hunters will tend to fall upon the gender that uses the lowest energy reproductive strategy, ie: males. This dovetails well with hunting tasks... $\endgroup$
    – chiggsy
    Aug 17 at 2:40

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.