This promoted debate among command crews about whether the Prime Directive would (or should) apply, and how best to balance competing ethical priorities. And there’s a way in which respecting a civilization’s autonomy by withholding information about self, mission, and other worlds could be downright paternalistic. (TNG: "Angel One"), Starfleet as an organization had the greatest respect for and required compliance with the Prime Directive. But if the Prime Directive seems to line up with some strong moral intuitions — that we should respect the autonomy of other cultures and strive not to inflict even unintentional harms on them — it also bumps up against the fact that Star Trek is all about the ethical project of sharing a universe. The trick is finding a way to share it on something like equal terms. This prop has text for the first three Starfleet General Orders. Learn all about geology and silicon-based life here. The actions Ensign Kim and Cmdr. (ST: "Q&A"). With Captain Archer commanding long before it existed. Note. These included the Sikarians. Well, let's start with The Prime Directive or Starfeet General Order #1. (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". History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous. Note that even observing the culture or civilization you are trying to learn about can interfere with it, depending on how you observe it. The Prime Directive is ETHICAL. The Prime Directive as a general prohibition against interference was unique to the United Federation of Planets. (DS9: "Captive Pursuit"; VOY: "Thirty Days"; TOS: "The Omega Glory"). The prime directive is used in the Star Trek franchise to describe guidelines for exploring other worlds without cultural interference. The Prime Directive was viewed as so fundamental to Starfleet that officers swore to uphold the Prime Directive, even at the cost of their own life or the lives of their crew. For example, the Prime Directive primarily applied to societies that had little to no actual knowledge of other worlds and space-faring civilizations (as with certain 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. Establishing an Ethical Prime Directive: A Proactive and Informed Approach to Navigating Rural Ethical Dilemmas. These ranged from total annihilation of civilizations through assimilation (for example, the Borg), to planetary relocation when the society was endangered on its homeworld (for example, the Preservers), to providing advanced knowledge on an ad hoc basis when the society was deemed ready (for example, the Vulcans), to interfering whenever doing so was seen as vaguely amusing (for example, the Q). 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. (TNG: "Coming of Age") On very rare occasions, captains could declare that the Prime Directive could be temporarily suspended for a period of time. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. Differentiate between the types of advance directives. Not an example of the Prime Directive being violated, but the most egregious example of Starfleet's hypocrisy is the juxtaposition of the TNG episode "Journey's End" and the TNG movie "Insurrection." I write about the ethics and philosophy of science. That being said, the captain and crew in numerous Star Trekepisodes either deliberately or accidentally violate the prime directive. 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 executive summary of the order given in the 1968 episode “Bread and Circuses” is: no identification of self or mission; no interference with the social development of said planet; no references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations. Furthermore, the Prime Directive is not altruistic either. 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. At its core was the philosophical concept that covered personnel should refrain from interfering in the natural, unassisted, development of societies, even if such interference was well-intentioned. (ENT: "The Communicator", "Cogenitor"; TOS: "A Piece of the Action"), The directive remained in effect well into the 24th century and applied to at least Starfleet and Merchant Marine personnel, but specifically did not apply to ordinary Federation citizens. How would it go if Captain Archer and Captain Picard discussed the prime directive? The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. A complicated order, the Prime Directive had 47 sub-orders by the latter part of the 24th century. The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. Category: Ethics Faculty: Jeffrey Leichter, PhD, LP Duration: 1.5 CE Format: Audio and Video. In a foreshadowing of the Prime Directive, Archer commented that eventually, Starfleet would have to "come up with some sort of a doctrine" establishing what Humans should and should not do while exploring space and interacting with other lifeforms. In both cases, Starfleet has made the decision to forcibly relocate two groups of people. Terms Ethical - conforming to accepted standards of moral conduct Temporal Prime Directive - the directive set out … Ethical limits of the 'Prime Directive' Your friend's email. 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. In the end, they decided that interfering with the natural evolutionary course of these two species would go against the "directive" upon which they based their entire mission: to meet new species and attempt peaceful communications, not to "play God". In both cases, Starfleet has made the decision to forcibly relocate two groups of people. The Prime Directive. Not an example of the Prime Directive being violated, but the most egregious example of Starfleet's hypocrisy is the juxtaposition of the TNG episode "Journey's End" and the TNG movie "Insurrection." (TOS: "Journey to Babel") The result was a spectrum of application: the more closely a civilization was tied to the Federation or Earth the greater the amount of interference in that civilization that was tolerated within the Prime Directive. series, “Star Trek”. Sharing a universe with another culture is a different kind of project than treating that culture only as an object of study. (ENT: , "Civilization", "Dear Doctor", "Carbon Creek"), The fundamental principles were an important part of Earth Starfleet procedures as early as 2152, but it did not go into effect as a General Order until sometime after 2168. I think this is self explanatory. (Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection), EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation With Forbes Insights, sticklers for Starfleet regulations could go into detail. Prime Later in the same year, an ethical dilemma was faced by Captain Archer and Phlox when the Enterprise NX-01 encountered two species, one with a terminal genetic illness and the other without. If your concern is not to change the natural behavior or development of alien citizens at any cost, your best bet is to stay at home rather than to explore new worlds. (Recall that the original run of Star Trek coincided with the Vietnam War, American involvement in which made a policy of non-interference look pretty good to many viewers.). (TOS: "The Return of the Archons", "The Apple", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", "A Private Little War"; TNG: "Conspiracy", "Justice", "Pen Pals", "Who Watches The Watchers"; DS9: "Captive Pursuit"; VOY: "Time and Again", "Prototype") If a decision was made by the commanding officer that could potentially be a violation of the Prime Directive, the conclusions and rationale would need to be recorded and justified to Starfleet through the ship's or station's logs. This embodies a kind of anti-colonialist ethos, a commitment to respecting a civilization's own values, beliefs, and practices rather than imposing “better” ones upon them. (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"; TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"; DIS: "New Eden") By virtue of joining the United Federation of Planets member planets were subject to its laws, regulations, and authority. Though the Prime Directive is an absolute law, it is in conflict with the second portion of the imperative in that I doubt Humanity would, if in the position of the planetary sentients, look up at the sky and say, “You know what, you’re right – its our time. The Prime Directive—a core tenet of Starfleet’s ethical principles which prohibits interference with the natural, unassisted development of other societies—has seen near constant violation in the wake of the temporal anomaly crisis. As well, a policy of non-interference reflects a particular attitude to the project of studying other cultures, namely that what you’re trying to understand is how the culture and its members would behave if the observers weren’t there. The Prime Directive had exceptions and allowed for violations if satisfactory reasons were given. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. That order permitted a starship captain, in certain circumstances, to destroy the entire surface of an inhabited planet and thereby eradicate any societies living there. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. In Star Trek it is the General Order 1 of the Starfleet and an oath every Starfleet Personnel has to take and … 0 Share on Facebook. Built into the Prime Directive is an assumption that cultures are better off if left to their own devices (whether those “devices” are social practices or concrete technologies). Captain James T. Kirk noted that the Prime Directive was intended to apply only to living, growing civilizations and felt it was appropriate to interfere where societies had been enslaved, were in a state of total stagnation (also known as an arrested culture), or even in mortal danger. The Directive is, don’t interfere in the evolution of alien societies, even if you have good intentions. (VOY: "Prime Factors"). The Prime Directive A short story about ethics and the Final Frontier, by Alister Browne. Your email. Superhero Ethics Exploring ethical questions from geek and genre stories. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. 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. Star Trek: On second thought: Some serious quibbles For example, why is Picard obsessed with Commander Data? Una quickly shut down this line of questioning by saying she had not, and for the sake of his sanity nor should Spock. Only the definition of what is ethical is uncertain, yet each person can answer that uncertainty for themselves. The actions Ensign Kim and Cmdr. Terms Ethical - conforming to accepted standards of moral conduct Temporal Prime Directive - the directive set out by … The Prime Directive of Permaculture from Bill Mollison : “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children” Earth Care. The existential threat to interstellar society of the dangerous Omega molecule, which destroyed subspace and rendered warp travel impossible if destabilized, outweighed the philosophical aspirations of the Prime Directive. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses"; TNG: "First Contact", "Who Watches The Watchers") But it also applied to the internal affairs of societies which knew extensively of other worlds (for example, interference in purely internal affairs by Starfleet was not permitted in the Klingon Civil War). Directive is a crucial regulation that is binding on Starfleet personnel. Ethical limits of Prime Directive. Since non-interference could harm the technologically inferior people. 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. Within the Star Trek universe, the RubyEkanor said: It's a measure to … You may opt-out by. I would like to subscribe to Science X Newsletter. I have a BA in Chemistry and Philosophy from Wellesley College, a PhD in Chemistry from Stanford University, and a PhD in Philosophy (with a concentration in History and Philosophy of Science) from Stanford University. The Prime Directive is merely a familiar example of the universal tension between highly general moral ideals and real-world applications. The actions Ensign Kim and Cmdr. ... Identify two threats to good ethical decision making related to difficulties with our own self- awareness and self –reflection. 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. Or check out the engineering of transparent aluminum here. 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). Interference by Starfleet, even if well-intentioned, is judged likely to mess things up in unanticipated ways — and if the culture in question is to deal with unintended harms, it would be better if they result from the culture’s own free choices. 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. There are many examples of actions during the 23rd and 24th centuries that were either identified at the time as violations of, or could appear to have potentially been violations of, the Prime Directive. Humanity has a … Price. When should the Prime Directive be broken? Be on your way.” Establishing an Ethical Prime Directive: A Proactive and Informed Approach to Navigating Rural Ethics Credit Available - See Credits tab below. 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. Violations are treated with severe punishment, as they rip at the very fabric of the Federation’s political ideals. Too many people believe it is their right to pass responsibility onto others but really you are responsible for your life and how you live it. (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"), Federation citizens did not need an exception as the Prime Directive did not apply to them. Discussions of ethics in data science and artificial intelligence are all well and good, but they won't go anywhere if the prime directive is making massive profits for venture capitalists. Also, did you know that Picard did math in his spare time? 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