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

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

  1. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

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    Rendering aid is certainly the kindest thing to do and hopefully fosters the idea of mutual aid to ships in distress but to do so doesn't induce a moral obligation to save an entire species.
    Archer could have stabilized the crew and ship and went on his way.


    Depends. Did they offer a hand to help those they could reasonably help or did they just watch them drown?

    I'm not sure how to answer that question. I guess I've never thought about interrogating flood victims to find out if they stood around watching others drown.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So Archer should have ignored a request for assistance from representatives of the Valakian government?

    "Tough shit, y'all! We can't take a couple days out of our leisure cruise to analyze your problem and at least give your (and our) government a report."

    Archer is not only an explorer, he is also a diplomat representing Earth interests on the frontier. Not only that, but you also want to examine the situation to ensure that the planet itself doesn't need to be quarantined.

    Good thing that Captain Garrett of another Enterprise didn't ignore a request for assistance from the Klingons, even though in your world nothing good could come from it...
     
  3. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

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    Archer should not have offered to try to cure their disease. He was interfering in the natural order of that planet.

    Garrett's actions fall in line with rendering immediate aid. The strategic benefits of such an act in regard to relations with the Klingons are also a further reason to help.

    And the Klingons didn't then ask Garrett or the Federation to go to war with the Romulans. Which is what you seem to be implying would be the morally correct thing for Star Fleet to have done.
     
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Archer (or Kirk or Picard or Sisko or Janeway) interfere with the natural order of a world the moment they step on it. You are introducing elements that the biosphere may or may not be able to handle.

    Huh? Is English not your first language, because I implied nothing of the kind. Garrett saved people, people who asked for help and her actions, unknowingly, helped to avoid a future war.

    For all you know, the Valakians will get assistance from someone else down the road and that help could have negative ramifications for Earth/the Federation.
     
  5. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

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    You are correct. Landing on any planet alters it. That is why there is a Prime Directive. To have rules about when that interaction takes place. We are shown many instances of the Enterprise-D scanning planets and determining what the impacts of an intrustion might be. I wish there had been more instances of, "We would seriously alter the bioshpere and should not land", but that would have made for rather boring entertainment...
    The observation of primitive cultures via the "blinds" was deemed to be "controversial" in the show if I remember correctly.

    I'm sorry, I thought your were saying that because Archer helped the Valakian ship he was obligated to cure their disease because they asked him. It didn't seem that far of a stretch to conclude that since Garrett saved the Klingons from an attacker, the Federation was obligated to protect the Klingons from any attacks in the future.

    And for all you know the Valakians find their own cure and figure out the Menk are more intelligent than they first realized.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Of course it's possible. But that happening would shoot Phlox's theory all to hell and allows innocent Valakians to continue to die in the interim.

    We will just have to agree to disagree. :techman:
     
  7. Vassa

    Vassa Commander Red Shirt

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    They did send down medication to help ease the pain and suffering. Perhaps that was enough help.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  8. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Dear Doctor is one of ENT's best stories because it shows the slow genesis of what will be called the Prime Directive once the Federation exists and because, given the initial response of Archer as well as many people who have seen the episode, it neatly reveals how counterintuitive interspecies ethics are.
    Structurally I like that Phlox neither shares the crew's gut impulse to help the sick Valakians nor the exploited Menk. He sees no exploitation and merely a symbiotic relationship yet his decision is clearly based on not messing with this very relationship. Basically he is the only one who actually thinks about the issue and after his initial impulsiveness Archer understands his point.
    Obviously the initial ending where Archer had not agreed with Phlox would have been better, not merely for this story but also for the continuation of the evolution of the Prime Directive. Instead of two PD episodes, one in which Archer learns from Phlox and one in which Trip learns from Archer there could have been a third one where Archer messes up and learns.

    Aside from the Prime Directive I like that the story is told from Phlox' perspective as it reveals how alien he is. Trek often just puts makeup upon aliens and neglects to show us how different from us they actually are.
     
  9. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic Phloxist Moderator Moderator

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    I'm not understanding the widespread assumption that the Valakians died out. How can anyone know what happened to them?

    At the end of the episode, the Valakians were still alive and kicking, supplied with palliative meds that would improve their situation, and filled with determination to find a solution to their problem. The future was not set in stone -- Phlox's theorized possible future or any other.

    There was no indication that the Valakians would never find a cure on their own. Or that they would never make contact with another species that might render aid or supply a ship to go looking for help. There are endless possibilities that include the survival of both the Valakians and the Menk, or one, or the other.

    To me, this was classic Trek: a moral dilemma, an impossible choice to make with no single "correct" solution. Both the Valakians and the Menk had something to gain and something to lose, no matter what steps were taken.

    The fact that folks here are still discussing it years later is likely the outcome the writers were hoping for. Saying Phlox and Archer should burn in hell...maybe not so much. ;)
     
  10. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    ARCHER: We could stay and help them.
    T'POL: The Vulcans stayed to help Earth ninety years ago. We're still there.
    ARCHER: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm beginning to understand how the Vulcans must have felt.

    Indeed. However views Phlox and Archer as wicked has to have the same opinion about Vulcans. When they arrived on Earth they met a culture in ruins. Sure, it has just developed warp drive but based on what Lily said there are still some wars going on so culturally the post WWIII humankind is probably below us.
    They did help us but not via providing technology and our key problems had to be solved by us. That made us angry and you can see that anger in Archer and Tucker. Only experiencing such problems themselves made them understand the Vulcans.
     
  11. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When discussing a principle, the actual outcome of the case in question is irrelevant.

    Imagine yourself driving along an empty road at night. Suddenly, you run into a car smashed into a tree, with a man stuck inside, crying for help. Do you get out and help (perhaps call 911), or do you just pass him by, thinking "meh, someone else will show up eventually anyway"?
     
  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A single person in distress is a far cry from an entire planet in distress, and I don't believe it's a valid analogy.
     
  13. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You just haven't given it enough thought.
     
  14. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    I think your example with the car accident neatly illustrates that most of the times we do not have to actually think about ethical issues. Most of our ethics are after all not a result of elaborate thought but are unconscious gut reactions that have evolved over thousands of years and are thus deeply wired into us.
    But in the case of interspecies ethics this does not suffice anymore, you need principles that run counter to what every fiber in your body tells you is right. This very tension has probably never been better shown than in the case of Dear Doctor.
     
  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, that wasn't at all dismissive.
     
  16. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You didn't at all dismiss my opinion without offering any counter-argument.
     
  17. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I said I didn't think your analogy was valid. If you think it is, perhaps you'd care to provide more information in order to bolster your case?
     
  18. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a matter of extreme urgency, where every minute counts toward a binary life-or-death outcome, and as such is not a helpful analogy to the dilemma the episode presents.

    I think HopefulRomantic hit the nail on the head.
     
  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I guess Gaith hasn't given it enough thought either.
     
  20. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    this episode combined a contempt for ethics with a contempt for science and the way evolution works. It is at the bottom of the barrel for Trek and it's depressing to see fans defend it.