On a South Sea island, psychology professor Burnhouse has established an experimental Utopian society based on “anti-humanistic” science and technology. Because his “behavioristic model” denies that human beings possess freedom of will, Burnhouse attempts to control people entirely by rewards. The result is an unanticipated downthrust among the population into extortion, robbery, rape, murder, and rebellion.
Another psychologist is sent to investigate, but his team is overwhelmed and faces certain annihilation. The team, and the island, is only “saved” when two residents, reflecting selfless love, sacrifice themselves for the sake of all.
As a mirror held up to the inscrutable values of our “human nature,” Freedom to Survive proposes whether human beings could ever create a peaceful and loving societyor not. Its striking conclusion is that the fittest citizen for the ultimate survival of our world is the one with the greatest capacity to love othersand respect others’ freedoms.
Freedom to Survive displays the bare human condition before the sociologist, the psychologist, philosopher, and theologian, and challenges us to consider whether a utopian society, based on universal love, could ever survive. Further, it demonstrates that a culture controlled by physical power only temporarily protects its own gene poolbecause ultimately, human beings will fight fearlessly for the right to choose . . . and to love.
Only a rare moral philosopher would accord Florence Gorsuch the full responsibility for what was to happen on Kipua Island. To be sure, everyone knows that she was truly the major engineer for the particular train of events. But it is also true that other persons contributed specific actions, which undoubtedly could have greatly influenced the consequences.
And whether Flo should ultimately receive high praise or high blame for her actions depends entirely upon our views as evaluators. We must decide whether or not the personal comfort and physical welfare of a relatively few individuals should ever be sacrificed for even significant scientific gains. Would it matter if those gains could ultimately benefit thousands, or even millions, of other worthy human beings?
Your answer depends upon your convictions, of course. What do you think the world is like, and by what rules does it operate? Everyone has convictions. Convictions determine one’s commitment to specific behaviors. A person always acts in accordance to his or her convictions. In fact, for a person of integrity, the behavior is a sure indication of the underlying convictions. And Flo was unquestionably a person of integrity.
Flo had been wrestling with the most basic, and most important, of psychological questions: Does a person truly possess some freedom of a will which can make him or her at least somewhat independent of life’s circumstances, but which can thereby also make him or her somewhat uncontrollable by any moderating factors in that environment? Unfortunately, despite the importance of the question for social order, professional psychologists have not as yet settled upon an answer. Thus, we wonder.
Indeed, psychologists are still debating whether or not precise, absolutely exact answers to the puzzles of human behavior are even theoretically possible, particularly for behaviors that really matter. Despite enormous technological advances in behavioral science, must we nevertheless concede that there will always be a residual degree of unpredictability and lack of controlcall it freedomfor human behaviors because of the very nature of our species? Depending upon their answers to this crucial question, different groups of psychologists have committed themselves to mutually exclusive psychological pathways for the improvement, and even the survival, of human society. Now, Flo actually believed that she had at her disposal the means to provide a solution to this greatest of psychological puzzles. Undoubtedly, the goal was worthy. She could not know that there would be disasters along the way.
Regardless of our moral judgments about the value of the end result, Flo’s motives were always scrupulously the best. Everyone would also agree about that. At first, Flo herself had no significant doubts about the wisdom and value of her actions. Going back to the beginning, no one on the island had been fearful of a bad result. Should anyone involved have known better? Which of them could have known?
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2011
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