Phlox and Archer's actions in Dear Doctor

Discussion in 'Enterprise' started by The Overlord, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    At the time of ENT, that stuff was already old hat to spacefaring species such as the Vulcans and the Denobulans. My point was that the "they're new to this stuff" excuse doesn't fly with experienced and well-traveled characters like Phlox.
     
  2. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Except there was no good reason why everyone wouldn't have won if Phlox just gave the cure to the Valakians? I don't see how this episode presents a good dilemma, how is the Menk's supposed future evolutionary leap a good trade off for the entire Valakian race dying off? A child would make the right decision here, so Phlox and Archer failing to do so, doesn't come off as a bad choice due inexperience, at best they made this choice because they were incompetent and at worst they made this choice because they were malicious.
     
  3. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Phlox was the malicious one. Archer was just an ignorant moron.
     
  4. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    not only that, it was ridiculous the way Phlox supposedly has this crystal ball that says that the Menk WILL make this leap. Er, there are tons of factors that go into evolutionary development, so to base a decision like WITHOLDING A CURE is absurd.

    And how did he know that the Valakians were going to continue to oppress the Menk? What if a few years down the road, there's a Menk Civil Rights movement and both races ended up living side by side in harmony?


    But no, Phlox had his pseudoscientific crystal ball to look at.
     
  5. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And what if that Menk/Valakian cooperation eventually turns their alliance into a major space-faring superpower? Who knows what they could have achieved together.
     
  6. Arachnea

    Arachnea Cadet Newbie

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    Hi,

    Well, I think it's a shame, because the whole episode was damn good and it was ruined by the conclusion.

    The idea of seeing human nature by an alien - Phlox - point of view was great and well done. The discussion between Archer and T'pol about how difficult it must have been for the vulcan with the humans was interesting and I really thought we were going to see a developement about when to interfere and when to stand by. But ! I thought it would be about the human point of view, about the relations between the two species (do we help the Menks to emancipate ?) or something about sharing technology and later on, see what problems it would cause to do so. I was excited to discover how and maybe why the sometimes appalling prime directive had to be applied.

    But no, they went right where they shouldn't have gone. I could have "lived" with something that didn't live up to my expectations, but not an unethical end. And mostly out of characters for both Phlox and particularly Archer. The worst thing is, Archer gave Phlox the exact good arguments before changing his mind. We don't even know what made him change his mind. We don't know what T'pol had to say about this, not to mention Trip. Well, maybe it's best we didn't see them agree :rolleyes:

    I'm still puzzled wether the writers didn't really think this out or if they did it intentionally to provoke reactions about the PD ?
     
  7. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the writers didn't understand evolution or ethics very well.

    And you're right. The idea that Archer would make this monumental decision without consulting anyone else, instead just being persuaded by Phlox's stupidity is kind of absurd.
     
  8. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    The Prime Directive is counter-intuitive. Our intution might suffice to deal with human ethical problems but obviously it is unable to handle inter-species issues.

    Imagine the situation on Earth when the Vulcans met Cochrane. Radiation sickness, civilization nearly undone, probably a lot of anarchy and hunger. And yet they did not help us, did not deliver food, medicine and technology but stood idly by while we had to solve our problems on our own. They did not give us warp technology and pissed off a lot of folks at Starfleet, among them Archer and Tucker. And yet the Vulcans have been right. Archer realized this after he has been in deep space for some time.

    Yet you guys suggest that Archer and Phlox should not merely have done what the Vulcans did not do on Earth but in addition to that given one group an advantage over another group (Forget evolution, that's precisely what the problems boils down to.)
    How would we have reacted if the Vulcans helped e.g. the North Americans but not the East Asians?
    And what about the Menk, doesn't Cutler feel that they are oppressed by the Valakians? Why not help them as well, equip them with all they need in their emancipatory struggle?


    ARCHER: You knew you had no business interfering with those people. But you just couldn't let it alone. You thought you were doing the right thing. I might agree if this was Florida or Singapore. But it's not, is it? We're in deep space, and a person is dead, a person who'd still be alive if we hadn't made first contact.

    Interspecies ethics are not the same as human ethics.
     
  9. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Phlox isn't human.
     
  10. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Just substitute human with intraspecies.
     
  11. Arachnea

    Arachnea Cadet Newbie

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    Hey, here's my first challenge to argue in English: I hope I'll be able to translate what my thoughts are :mallory:

    First of all, the situation you describe is different because earth achieved warp tech when the vulcans came to offer guidance. Then, we don't exactly what help they did offer or not, though I'm sure they didn't meld in politics. About the warp technology, they didn't piss off humanity because they didn't share, but because they refrained the humans with their tests and applications. I'm not saying they were wrong: we're talking about technology.
    The story itseld contains 4 possible problems:
    a. helping a non-warp civilization;
    b. the warp technology;
    c. wether or not the Menks are oppressed;
    d. the plague: valakians are dying.

    a. They already have been "contamined" with the encounter of 2 warp species and they came for help.
    b. Would the PD exist at that time, well, Archer did the right choice with not sharing warp tech: "They're not ready".
    c. Helping the Menk - though they don't seem to want any help - whatever the crewmen think, would clearly be melding in the politics and evolution of the two races, the PD would apply.
    d. Here's the problem: in the first place, if you're not gonna help for the sake of "evolution", you don't try to find a cure, you don't even try to ease the pain, this is intervention, isnt' it ? Question: if the Menk hadn't existed, they wouldn't even had thought about not giving the cure. That's the core of the problem. So, what about evolution ? Maybe there's a microbe who is going to evolve and become a powerful sentient species and you're killing the microbe's chance by giving the cure to the Valakians.

    Phlox and Archer are making an assumption: the Menk are supposed, one day, to be more than the Valakians are now. So they decide that the Valakians are not worth saving. It's not about human morale, it's about choosing a race over another. So if curing people is going against evolution (I don't care if it's genetic, virus or bacterial), why bother having medics at all ? Just to choose who to give a cure or not ?

    You say that giving the cure to the Valakians is giving an advantage to the them over the Menks: well, that would be true if the Menks were sick. In this episode, it is assumed that the Menks cannot evolve if the Valakians are alive... Well, hum, sure, that's the only possible path:wtf: I'm coming back to your first argument: if the vulcans hadn't come to earth, we would surely have evolved differently: vulcans has changed the course of human's evolution, just by being there. What I'm saying is, evolution is not static.

    This particular quote made me cringe when I heard it. Had it come from T'Pol, it would have been totally appropriate, because it's right. But coming from the righteous Archer... He takes the right to free sulibans (meddling with politics), he decides to help a colony fight Klingons, etc etc. But it's alright when it comes to HIS decisions (Sorry, not on topic, but I had to say it:D). And in this particular case, we're not talking about curing someone who is dying, Trip's interventionism meddles with culture where no help is asked. That's exactly what the PD is about.

    Finished :devil:
     
  12. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    On the one hand you have an issue with Archer's lines from the end of Cogenitor but on the other hand you think that Trip messed up?

    Anyway, back to the main issue, I like your point that the Vulcans involuntarily influenced humankind. What I don't like is the use of the word evolution only because Phlox used it in the episode. It's about the social relationship between two species, not about their biological fundamentals.

    You claim that not helping when help is asked for is as wrong as helping when no help is asked. This assumes a pretty naive picture of the world. Take any group which has fought an emancipatory struggle in history, they first have to convince their brother and sisters. Workers had to fight bourgeois ideology, blacks had to convince the Uncle Toms and women had to convince the all-too-happy housewives.
    In "Marauders" Archer first has to convince the workers that it is worthwhile to fight against these bullies who steal their property and you claim that this is essentially a violation of the Prime Directive.

    But you consider it not merely totally acceptable but even mandatory to help one species on a planet which asks for help but not another one which is obviously kept back merely because the former one explicitly asks for help while the latter does not.
    Suppose you knew a woman who is regularly beaten up by her husband. You offer your help but she refuses. Obviously you should help her against her will.

    People can be influenced by ideology, fear repercussions of resisting or just be happy in a subservient position, be it housewives, Uncle Toms or Menk.

    If you help the Valakans you gotta help the Menk, thus becoming something far worse than an imperial force. That's why you can help neither. Phlox, while sometimes appearing to have a bit of an ugly social Darwinistic mindset in this episode, clearly realized this. He neither shares humankind's urge to help the Valakans nor humankind's sympathy with the Menk but he realizes that the two human gut reactions are in conflict with each other and comes up with the right solution.
     
  13. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    So cruel indifference is now a form of morality in the Star Trek Universe? I hope not.

    So according to this logic, was it okay that West did nothing well there was a genocide in Rwanda in 1994? Many people think the West's inaction was immoral at worse, amoral at best, no one really thinks it was moral.

    In Rwanda, the Hutu extremists used the fact that in the past the Tutsis discriminated against them as an argument to justify committing genocide against them. Two wrongs do not make a right, you cannot use evil acts of the past to justify present evil acts.

    To say because Valakans were mistreating the Menk, somehow justifies letting them die in a plague, seems very immoral. The US had slavery in the past, would that justify allowing the entire US population to die in the 19th century? What about Germany, because of the crimes that nation state committed in the past, does that mean no one should help them if there was a plague there? Why should we assume that the Valakans would always mistreat the Menk, how would we know the Valakans would make reforms in the future? Also frankly the Valakans seemed far less brutal then either the US or Germany did in the past, so why are they less deserving of help? Also why should Valakan children be punished for the sins of their fathers, how do know the next generation wouldn't have changed things? I don't see anything the Valakans did as a justification letting them die.

    In this episode Archer replaced compassion with cruel indifference. That doesn't seem moral, it seems psychopathic. I don't care how far in the future it is, being compassionate is part of being human, being cold and indifferent makes someone seem less human, more like a robot. To say indifference and callousness is superior to compassion, sounds really screwed up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  14. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In essence, it is exactly like saying sociopaths are superior to regular people.
     
  15. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If there are actually aliens watching this planet (a hypothetical, because it's vanishingly unlikely) I hope they have a "Prime Directive."

    Otherwise, unless their values are exactly like ours (which "ours"?) we're well and truly fucked. Ask the folks who lived in the western hemisphere before the 15th century. ;)
     
  16. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, here it comes again, the "all forms of intervention are really forms of imperialism in disguise" argument. I wasn't sure we'd get through a thread on the PD without someone bringing that up.
     
  17. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Apples and oranges. Human ethics aren't interspecies ethics. That's the essence of the Prime Directive which I pointed out before.

    Punish, let them die, your choice of words implies that you consider the Enterprise crew to be the supreme agent in this game. They are not. If they were they wouldn't be a Starfleet crew anymore but an imperial force which arbitrarily assists one species at the cost of another.

    Many species roam the Alpha and Beta Quadrant. Starfleet is not responsible for the fate of them. Just imagine all the species the Klingon have subjugated. If you helped them you would unleash a catastrophic war with the Klingon Empire. Sure, it would be a war fought for noble causes but it'd be nonetheless catastrophic.
    If the Klingons were human I'd be the first one to argue for military action against them. But they are not which brings us back to the beginning, the zero level of the Prime Directive.


    By the way, you folks who call Archer a psychopathic would have to call the whole Vulcan species psychopathic as well because they refused to help humankind while they have been in dire need of help during the second half of the 21st century.
     
  18. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Well you were making comparisons to past societies on Earth in your arguments, why would I not do the same?

    So being cruelly indifferent towards the plight of other humans is wrong, but being cruelly indifferent to the plight of other sentient aliens is okay. How does that work?

    I think at the point when they developed the cure, they did become the supreme agent in this game. They had the power to prevent a mass slaughter and they did nothing. They had the cure, giving to the Valakans would take no effort and I don't see how the Valakans mistreatment of the Menk justifies letting them die in plague. Valakan society could have changed in the future, they could have had reforms and changed in the future. But the Valakans dying off due to this plague can never be undone. The mistreatment of the Menk was bad, but its easier to mitigate that then the destruction of the Valakan race.

    I don't see much different between Archer and Phlox in this episode and the leaders in the West who did nothing to prevent the Rwanda genocide.

    There is a huge middle ground between controlling other societies and micro managing everything they do and being indifferent to the destruction of an entire species. As usual, the best solution is found in between these two extremes.


    Was humanity as certain to die as the Valakans were in this episode? Because this episode presents it as an almost certainty they will. If the Vulcans knew humanity would almost certainly die and did nothing to help, they would be psychopathic.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    your point about the "middle ground" between control and indifference is the point at which the defenders of the PD in its most extreme form lose the argument.

    Because basically they're defense of it DEMANDS that they see no difference between intervention to help and domination or conquest. In the real world we'd recognize this as nonsense, but really to "defend" actions like in "Dear Doctor" leads one to poorly thought out arguments like either:


    "giving them the cure is interference, and interference leads to conquest and subjugation!"


    or

    "giving them the cure would mean going around having to "help" civilizations everywhere in the galaxy, which would require such a drain on resources and time it would be unworkable!"


    both are basically sloppy versions of the "slippery slope" and shouldn't really be taken seriously.


    Help is not synonymous with imperialism, nor does it require crusading around the galaxy in an endless quest to right all the wrongs out there.
     
  20. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    If you have seen Carbon Creek you know that this is precisely what the Vulcans would have done hypothetically during the Cold War and have actually done during WWIII. They stood idly by while Earth was about to destroy itself in a nuclear armageddon.
     

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