[extropy-chat] Prime Directive

Anne Corwin sparkle_robot at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 26 15:25:38 UTC 2006

One thing you'll notice, though, is that on quite a few episodes, the Enterprise crew ends up finding "loopholes" in the Prime Directive that end up having the same end result as a blatant violation might have had.  Usually through carefully directed passivity.  
  I just watched the episode "Symbiosis" the other night, in which the crew was faced with the issue of two neighboring planets economically bound to one another through what amounted to drug trafficking and maintained addiction (shades of the Opium War?).  The doctor was all in favor of directly violating the Prime Directive on the basis that it was cruel to withhold the information that one group was taking advantage of the other group.  
  And I have to say, I agreed with her.  They ended up staying within the bounds of the directive through not giving one planet repair components for their drug freighters, but the end result (the addicted group figuring out they were addicted) was almost assured.  
  Now, in this case, I would say that once the Enterprise crew figured out that one group was addicted, they had an ethical imperative to share that information. It bothers me sometimes how the Prime Directive assumes that the Federation somehow owns, and is responsible for, information that they intercept by accident and that has tremendous ethical implications for the groups they encounter.  
  Anyone could have intercepted that information, and I think it's a bit paternalistic for the Federation to go around assuming that they can tell, on the basis of superficial aspects of technological development, that a given race somehow cannot "handle".  In a sense, the Prime Directive contradicts itself -- they're trying so hard not to be paternalistic that they end up being so unwittingly because of the judgements the directive forces them to make about other cultures.

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