Spock Ethical Dilemmas

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by duspock, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Whenever I watch it what I see is her doing the come on big time and Spock just letting her believe what she wants.
     
  2. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    We'll have to agree to disagree on that. Frankly, I think you guys are out of your minds for thinking it. It seems a pretty simplistic notion of "integrity" and "honor".

    Here's a more honorable course of action: Spock could not do everything in his power to keep the Romulan commander distracted. Instead, he could leave her free to stop Kirk from stealing the cloaking device, or at least destroy the Enterprise as it is trying to get away. Then the Romulans could proceed as they wanted. Given the events of Balance of Terror, that probably means the Romulans will invade Federation space, spark another war, and millions will die.

    Would that display enough integrity?

    It's interesting, I'm having some parallel arguments in the discussion forums dedicated to the Song of Ice and Fire books (Game of Thrones and its sequels), about whether in upcoming books Jon Snow will leave the Night's Watch and go perform other tasks in the story. The people I'm arguing with insist that Jon has too much "honor" to ever do that. I'm going to make the same point here, that I try making there:

    You are confusing "honor" with "duty". It's easy to get confused about those things, because "honor" is a slippery term, with shifting meanings in different contexts. A good way to look at it is that "honor" is a public thing. It is reputation and how people look at you. Honor commands respect; or it is the demanding of respect. People get upset when their "honor" is besmirched.

    "Duty" is different. In the Ice and Fire books, Jon Snow cares deeply about his duty, and follows it along some difficult paths, doing things that put his honor into question. Is he a traitor, that kind of thing. It's very clear to the reader that Jon is doing his duty; but his honor (the public face) takes a beating. In another context, Ned has a line to Arya, somewhere early in the first book. Ned's character is especially rigid when it comes to duty and honor, almost priggish about it. Confronted with a lie his daughter told, and the impossible circumstance she was caught, even Ned has to concede that "Even the lie was – not without honor."

    So it is with Spock in this episode. His duty is very clear. He has a duty to protect the Federation and its peoples. He has a duty to assist Kirk in pulling off this wild scheme. And that's really all there is to it. Everything that Spock does in this episode flows directly from that. He behaves with complete integrity. Even his lies are not without honor. Spock himself gives all the answer that is needed. Who is he, that he could do what he did and yet maintain complete integrity?

    First officer of the Enterprise.
     
  3. TheAdmiralty

    TheAdmiralty Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This is the only one I'd call debatable.

    As for the others, following rules and regulations has little to do with morality. There was nothing wrong with wanting to defend himself/Kirk/the miners against the Horta before he realized its true intentions. And I can't believe people are actually serious about the Romulan Commander thing.
     
  4. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    It appears it hasn't been mentioned, yet, but the entire handling of the Salt Vampire in "The Man Trap" must have been quite an ethical dilemma for Spock, at least in this episode’s aftermath, hopefully.

    SALT VAMPIRE (disguised as McCoy): Oh. Well, we could offer it salt without tricks. There's no reason for it to attack us. (that’s the Salt Vampire disguised as McCoy!)
    SPOCK: Your attitude is laudable, Doctor, but your reasoning is reckless.
    CRATER: (eyeing McCoy carefully) The creature is not dangerous when fed.
    SALT VAMPIRE: No, it's simply trying to survive by using its natural ability to take other forms.
    CRATER: The way the chameleon uses its protective colouring, an ability retained no doubt from its primitive state, the way we have retained our incisor teeth. They were once fangs. Certain of our muscles were designed for chase. It uses its ability the way we would use our muscles and teeth if necessary, to stay alive.
    SALT VAMPIRE: And like us, it's an intelligent animal. There's no need to hunt it down.
    SPOCK: A very interesting hypothesis, Doctor

    What’s happening in this episode’s climax is not to “seek out new life” but to trap, provoke and finally kill it. The Salt Vampire was undoubtedly under stress, irritated and confused.
    They knew that they just talked with the creature, yet Spock doesn't come up with a contingency plan to prevent what eventually happened.

    It always looked to me that the producers understood that this was not an episode to write home about.

    In contrast we see in “Arena” quite a different Spock who almost appears eager to redeem himself for his colossal failure in “The Man Trap”.

    SPOCK: You allude to invasion, Captain, yet positive proof
    KIRK: I have all the proof I need on Cestus Three.
    SPOCK: Not necessarily, sir. Several possible explanations…
    KIRK: How can you explain a massacre like that? No, Mister Spock. The threat is clear and immediate. Invasion.

    SPOCK: The destruction of the alien vessel will not help that colony, Jim.
    KIRK: If the aliens go unpunished, they'll be back, attacking other Federation installations.
    SPOCK: I merely suggested that a regard for sentient life…
    KIRK: There's no time for that. It's a matter of policy. Out here, we're the only policemen around. And a crime has been committed. Do I make myself clear?
    SPOCK: Very clear, Captain.

    Bob
     
  5. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    Are you saying that Spock knew he had spoken with the creature, not with McCoy? I didn't read the episode that way.
     
  6. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    Spock says later that he had begun to have doubts in the Briefing Room.
     
  7. TheAdmiralty

    TheAdmiralty Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Despite being somewhat sympathetic, the salt monster was still a murderer. I don't see anything wrong with wanting to hunt it down so it couldn't hurt anyone else. You could argue that it was unwise or not the best option, but I wouldn't call it immoral.
     
  8. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    No, after he had been attacked by the fake McCoy (the Salt Vampire) he must have realized that it was the Salt Vampire they had been talking to in the briefing room.

    Apparently, the creature was intelligent, yet demonstrated erratic / alien behaviour.

    And yes, it had killed several crewmen, somehow unable to feed itself otherwise, but I wonder if that merited the execution the Salt Vampire got at the end.

    Bob
     
  9. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Just give the damn thing salt and it'll stop killing. It was acting in self defense, while literally starving. The Horta gets forgiven, why not ol Salty? Now why it didn't impersonate a chef and walk into the galley . . .?

    Many of the above posted examples, by the way do not seem unethical to me. Kidnapping violates Pike's autonomy, but autonomy serves happiness and Spock is acting to give Pike even greater happiness through imagined autonomy. I have no problem with this.

    The Decker thing? Illegal, sure. Saving 431 lives by ditching Capt Queeg? Highly ethical. It would be unethical not to.

    OP, I would concur with the Salt Vampire example.
     
  10. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually Sulu was some sort of astrophysicist in WNMHGB. He had only two lines in that episode, the first of which is "Astro sciences standing by, Captain."

    Sulu's "hobby of the week" was originally supposed to be a kind of running gag, but the idea was quickly dropped.
     
  11. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Although earlier in TOS Spock seemed to urge Kirk to pursue the Romulans until death and McCoy to kill the Salt Vampire, generally in the rest of the series Spock advised against killing as much as possible.
    I think in some cases such as in Arena the pursuit of the enemy went against Spock's Vulcan ethics but of course he had to comply with Kirk's orders because he had agreed to work for Starfleet.
    Thats not to say that Kirk had no ethics but he went the bloody nose way - show the enemy that you're strong so they won't mess with you again.

    I also believe that the seduction of the Romulan Commander would have been an ethical dilemma for Spock too. Not that she was an innocent party.

    In Menagerie he risked everything for a former captain but I don't think it was an ethical dilemma. Spock's life and career were at risk. No-one elses.

    I think that Spock was highly unethical in Methuselah though but he probably didn't think so. I think he though removing Kirk's memory was for the greater good. But I really can't imagine that Kirk could be that heartbroken after knowing a girl for less than a day.

    Spock's most unethical action IMO was the mind-meld on Valeris. And all for nothing.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    :techman:
     
  13. TheAdmiralty

    TheAdmiralty Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The Horta was different because it was actually protecting its eggs against aggression from the miners, which it has the right to do, even if the miners don't know what the eggs are. The salt monster was taking the lives of "bystanders" just to save its own, which I would call unethical.

    That would have simplified the episode quite a bit, but I don't think we ever saw a chef on TOS. :)
     
  14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    But we heard one.

     
  15. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And the part of Chef was voiced by Gene Roddenberry, if I'm not mistaken.
     
  16. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Trek woulda taken a different tack had ol' Salty eaten the Great Bird for supper.
     
  17. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Nor can I, especially since this girl was an artificial person (like the Minuet holodeck character Riker was attracted to in TNG. At least he wasn’t heartbroken at the end).

    Strangely, each time the mind meld scene pops up in my mind, I falsely recall it as the aftermath of “The Paradise Syndrome”. At least there, Kirk spent a considerable amount of time with Miramanee to experience a genuine feeling of loss, IMHO.

    Actually we did see a chef in „Charlie X“, although it was just his back.

    Bob
     
  18. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And lies like a champ.






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    How about ditching Leila Kalomi in "This Side or Paradise." Sure, we can say they were under the influence of the spores, but there clearly was something there between them. Leila didn't even seem to want to be "freed." I'm pretty sure that, even when both were free of the spores, she would have wanted him to stay with her. So Spock had to hurt her (and himself) pretty badly to essentially stay true to his Starfleet oath (ie, not desert). That's a dilemma, I'd say.
     
  19. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Was that GRs back? Just curious.
     
  20. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    Not true. Everyone else's was. The whole crew was violating General Order 4; and the captain was responsible.

    Mutiny not an ethical dilemma?