(VOY: "Prime Factors"). Well, considering how imperialist powers in our own history have interfered with lesser-developed (and I use that on a technological, not ethical, philosophical, or spiritual level) cultures, it is highly ethical. to "The philosophy of Star Trek: Is the Prime Directive ethical?" Is The Prime Directive really ethical? Sharing a universe with another culture is a different kind of project than treating that culture only as an object of study. © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. Even though Starfleet officers take an oath to uphold the Prime Directive even if it means sacrificing their own lives or the lives of their crews, as practiced, across several episodes of the various Star Trek series, it was not inviolable. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses", "A Piece of the Action"; DIS: "The Vulcan Hello"; TAS: "The Magicks of Megas-Tu", "Bem"; TNG: "Justice", "Symbiosis", "Who Watches The Watchers", "Redemption", "Homeward"; VOY: "Course: Oblivion"; Star Trek Into Darkness), The Vulcans used a series of protocols similar to the Prime Directive as early as 1957; in 2151, Sub-Commander T'Pol suggested to Captain Jonathan Archer that it would be wise for Starfleet to adopt these "Vulcan protocols". (TOS: "Bread and Circuses"; TNG: "Angel One") Despite this, it was occasionally described as a principle of the Federation or its people. The prime directive is present in the first Star Trek series, and has often been the subject of debate among Star Trek fans. How would it go if Captain Archer and Captain Picard discussed the prime directive? A complicated order, the Prime Directive had 47 sub-orders by the latter part of the 24th century. We will increasingly see the kinds of problems such tension creates in real life as technology opens up vistas beyond Earth for exploration and exploitation. This is a double-edged sword, like most ethical policies, because sometimes the … Topic info Short link Comments 1 comment (1 thread) Last comment posted 1 hour, 28 minutes ago Topic log (3) mycketforvirrad changed title from "The Philosophy of Star Trek: Is the Prime Directive Ethical?" (TOS: "Bread and Circuses") The directive provided guidance on what constituted prohibited "interference" with a society, covering such matters as: The Prime Directive did not apply equally to all societies on all planets at all times. Find out whether transporters could work in real life here. We will increasingly see the kinds of problems such tension creates in real life as technology opens up vistas beyond Earth for exploration and exploitation. The Prime Directive as a general prohibition against interference was unique to the United Federation of Planets. There may be circumstances in which choosing not to intervene results in more harm to a civilization (for instance, if Starfleet could share a vaccine or another technological tool that could prevent the civilization’s extinction). The Prime Directive’s moral implications provide a good example of what would happen if we took relativism to its logical conclusion. These included the Sikarians. Most Human colonies were excluded from its coverage altogether; but Human settlements established by aliens prior to official Human first contact were still covered, as they were regarded as pre-warp civilizations. There, in an atmosphere of conviviality unmatched in the galaxy, Cadets, Admirals, secretaries, and bureaucrats democratically gather to seek refuge and refreshment. The Prime Directive, from Mollison, states: “The only ethical decisions is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.” From there we move into the Ethics: Earth Care; People Care; Fair Share; This time around, I present the Principles differently from those presented by Holmgren and others. The text was slightly edited by the individual who made the prop for the film. That being said, the captain and crew in numerous Star Trekepisodes either deliberately or accidentally violate the prime directive. (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"), Federation citizens did not need an exception as the Prime Directive did not apply to them. We … (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky") On the other hand, both Captains Picard and Janeway were prepared to watch whole societies perish from natural causes rather than interfere – even when others were seeking to prevail upon them that Starfleet's role should permit actively saving societies rather than passively watching them die. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. Others were subject to interpretation, with commanding officers in Starfleet being given great discretionary powers regarding how and whether the Prime Directive would apply to specific situations. The Prime Directive is an ethical guideline, for how to treat cultures based on a policy of egalitarianism and trust. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. The Prime Directive’s moral implications provide a good example of what would happen if we took relativism to its logical conclusion. Host: Matthew Fox. It ensures every culture is given the opportunity to develop on its own without interference. Prime Most episodes dealing with the prime directive debate the morality and ethics of non-intervention in depth. That sounds like it might be important.--- ... Batman and Philosophy: Is it Ethical to Train Robin? The Prime Directive reflects both a consequentialist commitment to reducing harm and a Kantian commitment to respecting the autonomy of others. I’m a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at San José State University, where my teaching and research are focused on the intersections of scientific knowledge-building and ethics. (TNG: "Angel One"), Starfleet as an organization had the greatest respect for and required compliance with the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. Really sharing a universe is itself a kind of intervention. In particular, the Prime Directive is aimed at preventing interference with the internal development of civilizations that are less technologically advanced. (Star Trek Into Darkness; TOS: "Errand of Mercy", "The Return of the Archons", "The Apple") Captain Kirk also at least twice attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of a civilization when he believed that higher ethics compelled or justified such actions. 2, p. 180) has a picture of a prop made for Admiral Christopher Pike's office in Star Trek Into Darkness. Real Geeks know The Prime Directive.. For those of you who don’t know it, the The Prime Directive is General Order #1 for space exploration in the T.V. And the crew mostly seemed to go along with interpretations of the Directive that were, frankly, monstrous (except for some notable dissenters, like Dr. Crusher). This is not quite the same as the “measurement problem” for quantum mechanical systems, where our measurements of such systems involves hitting them with electrons or photons or other stuff very similar in properties to the system we’re trying to measure (and where that measurement is not simply revealing the pre-existing state of the system but collapsing the wave-function to make the state you’re measuring). Traditionally be seen as the Non-Interference Directive, the Prime Directive happen if we took relativism its... Reducing harm and a Kantian commitment to respecting the autonomy of others of non-intervention in depth interference the. Answer that uncertainty for themselves the science of Star Trek franchise to describe guidelines for other! 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