True or False: Dear Dr. is most morally bankrupt trek episode evar

Discussion in 'Enterprise' started by ElimGarak, May 29, 2012.

  1. TiberiusMaximus

    TiberiusMaximus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    To clarify, when I say natural disaster, I mean the sort of natural disaster Trek protagonists deal with on a weekly basis - not something like an earthquake or hurricane, but something like an asteroid hurtling towards their planet.

    I'm not talking about an asteroid that will cripple their civilization or even send them back to the stone age - I'm talking about an extinction level event. If an asteroid or spatial anomaly threatens to destroy an entire civilization, how is letting that happen the moral thing to do?

    The PD forbids "interfering in the natural development of a less advanced culture." Well, I've got news for you. Extinction is not part of natural development. Once a species is gone forever, they're not advancing or developing anymore, are they?

    Also, the situation is a little different when someone is actually asking for help. Now, I wouldn't have a problem with the Federation saying "There's some things you have to fix on your own" or "We really can't get involved in this since it's impossible for us to stay neutral and objective in this case."

    But most Trek fans seem to equate that with allowing something like an asteroid impact to exterminate a species - or a spatial anomaly, or hostile alien life, or any other external force that threatens to wipe out a less advanced culture.

    In this case, Phlox had the cure for the Valakians, and there was no proof that helping the Valakians would be detrimental to the Menk or vice-versa. I believe Dear Doctor was meant to demonstrate why the Prime Directive is a good idea, but it failed miserably to do so. If the situation had been better thought out, or if it had been proven that only one of the races could survive, that would be one thing. In the end, what's really wrong with Dear Doctor is the writing.

    I'm not saying the Feds should go around fixing everything for less advanced cultures. I just disagree with the widely expressed oversimplification of the Prime Directive. It's not as simple as "let horrible things happen because you have no right to save people."

    It's more like "Yes, bad things are happening and we could step in, but we're not sure what the long-term effects would be. We're not neglecting you guys because we don't like you, but we really can't get involved since we're not perfect either." It's not the inaction itself that is praiseworthy - it's recognizing that we don't know everything either.

    The Prime Directive is a good idea because there needs to be a baseline. Instead of deciding everything on a case-by-case basis, there needs to be a rule that says "Okay guys, 90% of the time, interfering is a bad idea. Trust us, we know from experience that it's better to let these things sort themselves out." Again, that shouldn't apply to external forces such as asteroid impacts that would cause total extinction. As a general rule, it works. As dogma, it doesn't.

    I think it would have been better to demonstrate why the PD was eventually created by having Archer and his crew monumentally screw up by helping someone out, opening Pandora's Box, and having the whole situation explode violently in their faces. Then the audience would think, "It would be better if they had stayed out of it" and not "Why didn't they help?"
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    TOS also said that you save those that you reasonably can, see: The Paradise Syndrome.
     
  3. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    :techman:

    The quandary should've been focused on Archer finding the treatment of the Menk unacceptable and forcing human morality on the situation. Then we find out later that many Menk died of starvation and ailments because of Archer's actions. That is the type of situation the Prime Directive is there to prevent. A starship captain forcing human morality on any given social situation.
     
  4. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Yeah, the whole idea of letting an asteroid slam into a planet that would never know it was coming would be beyond callous. Ideally, they wouldn't notice.

    Who knows they may one day discover the secrets of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

    I think one of the reasons I like this episode is because it isn't cut and dry but it does make sure to show that Archer screwed up.

    ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  5. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    I agree.
    About the asteroid stuff, I agree in the case of an asteroid that cracks up an entire planet.
    But what about the event that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? Do you have to stop it or only if the intelligence of the lifeform in danger is beyond a critical level?
    What do you do in the case of other genocides? Suppose the Feds met somebody like us, primates who drive chimps and bonobos to extinction. Do you have to stop them?
    This case might be easy but as the Federation consists of mainly primates you get an automatic bias in your definitions of intelligence and sentience that influence whom you protect and whom you don't. Data and the Doctor illustrated these biases very well.
    STIV showed what happens when a lifeform with other definitions of life and sentience than ours starts to use its power.

    We might think we have all the answers and that our ethics are absolute. I think the entire time that I am right and everybody else is wrong. This is totally natural and precisely because it is so natural we need a rule that prevents us from acting upon our belief that the human perspective is the only valid one and thus seriously fucking up out there.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    The only one dealing in absolutes in this debate is you. Seems the rest of us understand we're dealing in shades of grey when/if applying help in a situation we may not fully understand.
     
  7. ElimGarak

    ElimGarak Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    these ppl were already space travelers with a knowledge of other alien civilizations more advanced than their own...they were SEEKING OUT alien intervention to save lives.

    and we're talking about a medical cure not the schematics to a warp drive or a photon torpedo. prime directive argument is entirely misplaced here
     
  8. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Bullshit, there are no shades of grey when we talk about treating people like slaves. It is absolutely wrong for us. That's why Trip did what he did in Cogenitor and that's why the everybody but Phlox reacted to the Menk like they did.
    Precisely because we have absolute rules (don't tell me that murder, theft and slavery aren't wrong) we need a rule that forbids us from using them out there.
     
  9. ElimGarak

    ElimGarak Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    and while we're on the subject of Phlox's hitlerian sense of morality, let's not forget that he jeopardized the lives of his captain and crewm in the Vox Sola episode when he slowed Reed's progress on perfecting the force field b/c he was concerned with the wellbeing of a mildly intelligent tentacle
     
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    I don't think the argument is entirely misplaced. But I don't think those who originally envisioned the Prime Directive thought it would be applied to extinction level events.

    The biggest problem, in story, is Phlox's nebulous outlook on the Menk progress. Maybe in a thousand or so years they'll make a leap, maybe not.

    I wouldn't allow billions to die based on maybe/maybe not.
     
  11. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    You neatly reveal what I just wrote about, our primate bias. "If it hasn't two legs, two arms, eyes and a mouth and strongly resembles us it cannot be intelligent and deserves not to be treated with respect."
    I would think twice about comparing Phlox with Hitler if I just wrote something so disgusting.
     
  12. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    The episode I wish we could have seen was the Federation finding a civilization that was on the cusp of warp drive that was vile and bloodthirsty. A civilization that wanted warp drive to go out and conquer other races.
     
  13. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Location:
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    do you even read the stuff you post? You contradict yourself with almost everything you write.

    First you say ethics don't apply to aliens, then you're insulting another poster for not applying ethics to an alien.:wtf:
     
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    You keep changing the parameters of the argument. For the sake of consistency going forward. Are the Menk, people like you and me? Or are they intelligent chimps, like Phlox says, who may make an evolutionary breakthrough in a thousand years or so?

    If it's the first, then Phlox's entire argument for letting the Valakians die falls apart. The Menk have made the leap. Archer has no right to interfere in the social order of their society. But the Prime Directive wouldn't prevent him from helping the Valakians, solve an extinction level medical crisis. Especially since they ASKED for help.

    If it's the latter, then do you suggest that the Valakians put the Menk in forests and zoos where they belong? We don't allow chimps and gorillas to run around cities...
     
  15. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    You really wanna defend somebody who cannot even write normally, starts a thread with "only one opinion allowed and then compares Phlox with Hitler? Go ahead.
    I already explained in depth my position. Vox Sola has nothing to do with the Prime Directive. A lifeform got hold of some of your people and instead of pulling your phaser you try to understand this lifeform and communicate with it.
     
  16. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    I disagree here with Phlox and already wrote before that the Menk side of the issue is a social and not a biological one. They are already quite intelligent but do not require their intelligence in their everyday life because the Valakians are their caretakers.
    The Menk are by the way capable of language so comparing them with gorillas or chimpanses is hardly valid. I personally do not visit zoos by the way as I wouldn't wanna be incarcerated and forced to live in a different climate zone.
     
  17. ElimGarak

    ElimGarak Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    perhaps "hitlerian" was a bit over the top - and i apologize if my use of the adjective offended you or anyone else. my point was that I personally find his ethical decision making process to be very much off base. not sure what you mean by my not being able to "write normally" - but that's neither here nor there.

    also, when I said "false is not an acceptable answer," I hope you realize that that was in jest.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    Then you're not really retarding their progress by allowing the Valakians to live. The slavery charge could be accurate but that's a definite no-no for Archer to try and rectify. That will rectify itself over time.
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Location:
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    "Dear Doctor" has nothing to do with the PD either. There was no such law. You can't use it as a defense of Archer's actions.
     
  20. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    You imply that they will liberate themselves sooner or later from the Valakians. I view it differently as their symbiotic relationship is stable for the benefit of both species. The weak species is not annihilated by the stronger one and the strong species can outsource simple labour. As this has probably gone on for tens of thousands of years or longer both cultures most likely have many implicit rules, taboos and so on that maintain the status quo (think of Vulcan orthodoxy or our own implicit rules like the incest taboo).