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

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

  1. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    As Phlox has pointed out this is not "something their government is doing" (not that it matters as every citizen is responsible for the actions of his government in a democracy) but a very deeply rooted behaviour which enables a peaceful coexistence between two species.

    When viewing the issue not from Phlox' biological but from a human ethical standpoint, the very standpoint which drove Archer to help the Valakians, you cannot really arrive at a "slaveholding is OK as long as the slaveholder is nice to his slaves" stance.
     
  2. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    How do they know all Valakians are doing this? How do we know they are not Valakians trying to change things? Slavery was wide spread in many societies in the past, but that is not the case now. What about the children, should they be punished for their father's sins. It seems like Archer and Phlox are not taking these factors into consideration.

    Also genetic breakdown thing is extremely bad science, in so many ways, all this junk science completely undermines the episode.

    Phlox and Archer condemned these people to death, it doesn't matter if something else comes along and saves them later, that does not negate the callousness of Archer and Phlox's original action. If I see a baby in trouble and choose not save it, the fact that someone else saved it later, doesn't negative the immorality of my original inaction. Archer is supposed to be a hero, having him do nothing while billions die is not heroic.


    How does that justify letting billions of Valakians die? Does the Cardassian Union's actions on Bajor justify the Dominion killing 800 million Cardassians? Because the Cardassian Union's actions on Bajor are a million times worse then what the Valakians did to the Menk and yet I don't think we were supposed to cheer when the Dominion killed 800 million Cardassians.
     
  3. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Harsh words from somebody who doesn't want Archer to at least ask the Valakians to end the enslavement of an entire species.
    You think there is an easy way out, just pick your favourite and fuck the other species whereas I think that whatever you do, help one, both or none, is a monstrosity.
     
  4. Deimos Anomaly

    Deimos Anomaly Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't see what's wrong with applying human ethics.

    When the Romulans go out they apply Romulan ethics wherever they go. The Klingons most certainly roll with Klingon ethics in interactions with all other species. The Ferengi apply Ferengi ethics.

    The best ethics for humans to use would be human ethics, rather than trying to make up some sort of new ethics as they go along.
     
  5. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Letting billions of people die is greater monstrosity, in my opinion. Societies can change for the better, if you give them time, dead people cannot change for the better.

    Isn't one of the messages of Star Trek is that people have the ability to grow and become better, to change their ways no matter how ingrained they are? Pholx and Archer denied that chance for change to the Valakians and that to me is act of evil. Phlox and Archer flying off to their next adventures while women and children are dying on that planet is not even remotely heroic.
     
  6. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    It is not meant to be heroic, like all sublime ethical acts it is meant to be horrific.

    Anyway, it is in my opinion the greatest episode of ENT as it assumes like no other Trek story the view of an alien. It would have been even better if Archer had disagreed with Phlox, if this tension between the human and the Denobulan view had been maintained. Archer's best relationship, the one with Shran, is after all also an one in which differences are maintained.
     
  7. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Except the Denobulan view is the patient's rights are supreme and if a patent asks to be treated, its the duty of a Denobulan doctor to treat that patient. Phlox is immoral from both human and a Denobulan viewpoint. What happened to the Hippocratic oath? Does Phlox have the right to ignore the Hippocratic oath whenever he feels like it? I wouldn't want an doctor like that.

    Frankly in this episode Phlox was either an incompetent idiot or an evil biologist who believed in insane social Darwinist about only the fit being allowed to survive. So he was either Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama or Mr. Sinister from the X-Men. That's great choice.
     
  8. bluedana

    bluedana Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Hippocratic Oath is a human (and not necessarily a worldwide) convention. It doesn't bind Phlox.

    Anyway, a question. Where or when does Phlox say that Denobulan ethics require that a patient get treatment if he or she asks? I recall (in, for example, The Breach) him saying that he can't treat someone who refuses treatment (right before he disregards that), but I don't remember him saying the corollary principle.
     
  9. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    The Hippocratic Oath forbids abortion and euthanization and hardly a decent contemporary guidelines for medical ethics. I think The Breach tried to address this indirectly via showing a superior principle (I doubt that Denobulan doctors are forbidden to treat people who cannot make good judgements because pf psychological or neurological issues).

    PHLOX: The will of the patient is the cornerstone of Denobulan medical ethics.

    I think it is safe to guess that this works both ways. But to get back to Dear Doctor, as Phlox rightly points out the issue is more complicated than a simply treatment of the common cold or even an "ordinary" plague that kills millions. He literally changes the DNA of these folks.
    I do not think that he is bound by Denobulan medical ethics in this instance precisely because it is more than a mere medical case.
     
  10. Deimos Anomaly

    Deimos Anomaly Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If Phlox and Archer were put before the Nuremberg judges, they'd end up swinging by their necks for the Valakis Holocaust.

    It is true that this tradgedy was ongoing before they came along, but once they became involved they crossed a line, and became responsible to the Valakians, to prevent their tragedy as far as they could. And so, when they wilfully decided not to do that, but to allow their extinction, they became morally culpable. They had the power to prevent millions of people from dying, but they decided to let them die. And apparently they didn't even lose a night's sleep over it.

    Also, it had nothing to do with "allowing nature to take its course". That argument is always a bullshit copout - nature is not driven by a mind, it is a random series of events. Every and any event that happens anywhere in the universe is part of the course of nature, including the works of intelligent beings. There is no such thing as "going against nature", because people are themselves of nature and a part of the same. The Empire State Building is as much a part of nature as the trees of Amazonia. The anthropomorphized "mother nature" trope has, however, been so heavily popularised in the media, entertainment and the arts, for perhaps a century or more... with nature essentially attributed the properties of some sort of overseeing goddess, that many people today are almost incapable of comprehending the utter neutrality that is the reality of nature.

    Which brings us to the predicament of the Valakians. They had a random glitch in their DNA, which was a ticking time bomb that would inevitably mutate and cause their DNA to collapse and wipe them out eventually.

    The course of nature had brought them to this predicament. But the course of nature also threw the starship Enterprise their way. Nature was neither for nor against the Valakians. Of nature was their doom, and of nature was their potential salvation. Anyway, I went on a bit of a side track there, back to Phlox and Archer...

    They wilfully engaged in what would today legally be defined as Depraved Indifference. They developed a cure, and then decided to turn their backs and walk away without giving it to those who needed it.

    It's hard to empathise with and root for a show's supposed heroes when they do something worthy of a dastardly Bond villain right in the first series.

    I'm currently watching through Enterprise, as described in the thread I started on that in GTD, but at the minute I'm trying to just forget that "Dear Doctor" was in there.
     
  11. Deimos Anomaly

    Deimos Anomaly Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a red herring. The mechanism by which people have come by an affliction is not grounds to judge whether they ought to be cured of it.

    Their DNA itself was disintigrating. Their DNA therefore needed to be fixed, removing the glitch that was causing it to self-destruct, so that it would hold together and the species would continue.

    Phlox, using the medical science available to 22nd century humanity, was able to contrive a solution that would fix their DNA. Therefore, a solution to their situation was scientifically possible. The Valakians' own medical science had not produced a fix, but this can be attributed simply to the fact that the Valakians were a century or two behind the Humans, their medical tech was not yet advanced enough to find the solution by the time the condition manifested itself and started killing them off. They straight up were running out of time, they needed a breathing space as it were.

    The thing about "changing their very DNA" is a flimsy excuse.
     
  12. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    If humankind cared about the Nuremburg principles every American president after WWII would have had to be punished.
    Just like international law differs from national law space law has to differ from Earth law. Once the Federation is established the key space law for the Federation is the Prime Directive.
    I'd like to add that a Federation ship would be forbidden to assist a pre-warp species like the Valakians under rule number one.
    Furthermore I'd like to point out that death penalty is barbarism and thankfully eliminated on Earth in the 22nd century.
     
  13. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, you can debate the ethical morality of doing nothing, but, no, Nuremburg JUdges couldn't sentence them to Death, doing nothing is not a crime. In America today, you are not required to aid someone in physical danger or someone in need of Medical care, and in fact, if you practice Medical care without a License, you can be sued or if something goes wrong, you could be sued. l'd imagine this is a pretty common law throughout the Western World.
     
  14. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's implied.

    We know that the patient's will is absolute, in Denobulan medical ethics. Phlox says so. So since Hudak (the Antaran) doesn't want to be treated, Phlox must respect this. He says that too.

    The flip side of this is a natural derivation. If the patient can refuse to be treated, then logically, they must also be able to INSIST on being treated.
     
  15. bluedana

    bluedana Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmmm. You may be inferring that, but I'm not sure the dialogue gets you there, actually.

    Here's the whole scene (courtesy of Chrissie's Transcripts):
    I'm thinking if there were a hard and fast rule that a Denobulan doctor must treat a patient if asked, regardless of the circumstances, then the answer to Archer's question, "Don't you believe if you can help someone [you're] ethically bound to do so?" would be an unequivocal "Yes." It'sot clear that it works both ways, either in Dear Doctor or The Breach, based on Phlox's response.
     
  16. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ But Phlox wasn't asked by the patient to perform treatment. If he had been, then he must do it.

    Phlox refused Archer's order simply because Archer is not the patient.
     
  17. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Why would Star Fleet Medical allow people who don't believe in the Hippocratic Oath to become doctors? That seems dangerous.

    I'm pretty sure Star Fleet is cultural tolerant to a point, but when someone's cultural beliefs prevent them from doing their job, it becomes problematic. When Worf killed Duras, Picard gave him a reprimand, despite the fact what he did was within Klingon law.
     
  18. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Hippocratic Oath doesn't really apply in The Breach. It says do no harm, and do what you can, it doesn't say anything about treating a patient against their will. Plus, there is no Starfleet in Enterprise, Phlox was simply an Alien Doctor on a Cultural Exchange.

    Babylon 5 dealt with a similar matter. An Alien family had a son with a breathing problem that was killing him. The Doctor could fix it with a simple operation, however, the family's Religion didn't allow cutting/surgery, and so they refused to allow the Surgery. The Doctor went to the Commanding Officer to ask for permission to do the surgery, the Commander ordered him not to do the surgery unless the family agreed. The Doctor did the surgery anyways and the boy was fine. But, the family believed he was no longer pure and they killed him
     
  19. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Hippocratic Oath does apply when Phlox chose not give the give the cure to the Valakians. I wouldn't want to be treated by a doctor who can hold medication I need to survive on a whim.
     
  20. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Hippocratic Oath comment was related to The Breach, which is why I specified it didn't apply in The Breach