The Overlord wrote:
The problem is the social stuff in this episode is backed up by junk pseudo science that has been used to justify evil acts in the past. The bad science makes this episode fail as a moral dilemma, because Phlox's conclusions seem to be based on science that would be dismissed as the work a quack at this point.
The moral dilemma may have worked better if instead of a choice between the Valakians dying or the Menk developing at some point in the future, if it is a choice between the Menk dying or Valakians dying. To me that is more of a moral dilemma, that is a supremely hard decision and it would have made for a better story then what we got instead.
Killing A to save B or vice versa would be no dilemma, Archer would stay out of it (unless it were a member of his crew like in the case of Similitude which is slightly weaker than Tuvix as Archer does not kill Trip's clone).
There is no bad science in the episode as nothing that Phlox says is scientifically wrong. As I tried to elaborate above, the crucial question is whether you view messing with DNA as curing sickness or giving the species a head start.
I also think that the biological stuff should stay in there. The two greatest moment of the episode have been the moments in which the humans feel compassion for the sick Valakans as well as the exploited Menk whereas Phlox doesn't. He has his mind on the long-run and realizes that what is exploitation from a human perspective is decent form of coexistence as the dominant species might very well have eradicated the weaker one. This is clearly the view of a biologist.
Of course the better version would have been the original one in which Archer did give them the cure at the end precisely in order to maintain tension between gut-following humans who only see the immediate suffering and the hyper-distanced doctor who only sees the distant past and the far future.
A further problem was that the suffering of the Menk which Sindatur mentioned got not woven into this, that the initial "they are exploited" reaction does not create questions like "shall we give them the cure if they commit to treating the Menk better?".
It is bad science to suggest that nature has a plan or species evolve into extinction, neither of those things are even remotely true. Phlox basing ideas on these two flaws ideas makes him a quack, not biologist.
Also let's compare the Valakans treatment of the Menk, to the way America treated black people before the Civil war or the way Germany treated Jews during WWII. Both America and Germany did things that were worse then what the Valakans did to the Menk, but does that mean if Americans or Germans were dying of a plague, no one should help them? The Valakans could change their ways in the future, heck, giving them the cure could have convinced them to change. They can't change for the better if they are dead.
The moral dilemma fails, because it based on junk science and ignores the possibility that the Valakans may treat the Menk better in the near future.
I think sfdebris made a pretty good case of why the science and morality in this episode is crap.