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Why the "Prime Directive " should be repaired or taken away..

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Created by: DammitJim6200

Data Logan

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Report this Feb. 20 2011, 9:49 pm

Please see the previous discussion thread on this started by captbates back on Oct. 02 2009. (It's fairly easy to find since it is still one of the longest with over 154 replies.  So if you sort discussion threads by greatest # of replies it shows up within the first 2 pages.)

(I don't suppose we can combine the two threads.)

In general, I'm much more in agreement with Treknoir over lostshaker.

lostshaker, I've read your discussion here and in the older thread, which you were a heavy contributor to and my main issue is one of timescale.

You just argued here that:
"Interfering to prevent death within an alien population is illogical ... as death is inevitable.  It can be postponed, but only for an indiscriminate fraction when in comparison to the collective entity."
I think by this you are arguing that because our entire society has only existed for a few thousand years compared to the 15 billion years of the universe, that nothing we do in the short time line should mater.  And that because of that we should just let nature take it's course even when an entire civilization is about to be wiped out and we have the power to stop it (like in TNG episode Homeward).

You talk about a "collective entity which is capable of both total population replacement in roughly a century's time (as it applies to humans) and ideological propagation." 
I'm not sure what you mean here.  Are you implying that no mater how bad a disaster on a pre-warp world is, they will be able to rebuild their society back to pre-disaster levels within 1,000 years?  What if the disaster completely wiped out every single being?  they certainly couldn't rebuild from that within a 1,000 years.

And you state that the "Prime Directive ... deals with long term consequences, rather than immediateness to which emotional behavior is predisposed."
I argue that the time scale for Prime Directive decisions is the very issue.  It IS there to prevent the short-term emotionalism and make people think in a more long-term sense.  But I argue that the "long-term" sense that people should be thinking in is a mater of centuries and not millions or billions of years, like you seem to be arguing.

As I stated in that other thread, you can go crazy with these speculations. We need to keep the timetable a little more practical.
Remember that the Prime Directive is a tool of the Federation government.
A tool of mortal beings. Beings that all have lifespans no more than a few hundred years.
They need to and do operate on a time scale that’s meaningful to them, their children, and their civilization.
Moral decisions like those of the PD need to be based on the situation as it exists today and worry about the future later. (See more discussion in the older thread where I touch on Probabilities and Informed Decisions.)
Don’t worry as much about the race that may evolve out of the ashes of a disaster on some pre-warp planet, worry more about the sentient species that is already there. All life is precious, but in my opinion, real current life is more important than future possible life.

There is a lot more to be said about this.  And I have written a lot more on that older thread.  Certainly PD decisions have to be made understanding resource limitations and they have a margin of error (because they are made my mortals) and can be wrong, but should still be made using the best information available at the time. 
Not making a decision is just a big cop-out, as I think Treknoir is arguing.

Treknoir

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Report this Feb. 21 2011, 11:44 am

"There is a lot more to be said about this.  And I have written a lot more on that older thread.  Certainly PD decisions have to be made understanding resource limitations and they have a margin of error (because they are made my mortals) and can be wrong, but should still be made using the best information available at the time.  Not making a decision is just a big cop-out, as I think Treknoir is arguing." ~Data Logan


The PD is about decisional expediency, a heuristic if you will. It allows the warp capable society to disengage from complicated matters. Safe in the knowledge of their superiority (i.e., we survived) and allowing them the emotional and moral safety of not having to feel guilt about the fate of another species. However, a heuristic is not always failsafe in its repeated application to seemingly similar situations. I actually disagree with Data Logan on the consideration of the future. I believe it is just as probable that the species we save today, may in fact, save us or indirectly positively affect our well-being tomorrow. It seems that folks who argue against intervention always want to focus on the negative and never the potential for a positive (though well past our lifetime) outcome.


We are still learning about the universe and galaxy. It is vast, but I'm not so sure that there isn't some sort of interconnectedness between worlds, life, and sentience. After all, whether one is religious or not, most people believe that at one time there was no universe (as we understand it) and that all we know (and a hell of a lot we don't) came from a starting point. I believe that at some point ignoring the needs of others eventually works its way back to those who first ignored. Call it what you will, but no decision is ever made in a vacuum.


The whole thing makes me ponder the episode "All Good Things (TNG)" and how humanity was on trial for failing to "expand their minds" and in a previous episode was on trial for being a savage race. Not PD focused, but to me at least, a commentary on being closed-minded.


It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want. - Spock

lostshaker

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Report this Feb. 21 2011, 4:32 pm

"Interfering to prevent death within an alien population is illogical ... as death is inevitable.  It can be postponed, but only for an indiscriminate fraction when in comparison to the collective entity."


I think by this you are arguing that because our entire society has only existed for a few thousand years compared to the 15 billion years of the universe, that nothing we do in the short time line should mater.  And that because of that we should just let nature take it's course even when an entire civilization is about to be wiped out and we have the power to stop it (like in TNG episode Homeward).


That's not what I'm saying at all, and certainly not on the time scale of 15 billion years. What we do in the short term absolutely matters. The statement you quoted above and its follow up must be considered together, which I will elaborate on in a moment.


You talk about a "collective entity which is capable of both total population replacement in roughly a century's time (as it applies to humans) and ideological propagation." 
I'm not sure what you mean here.


A collective entity can be a society, an entire planetary civlization, and anything between; it is a macro-representation of its individual constituentcy. Total population replacement refers to the society's reproductive cycle. To illustrate, let's speculate population A has an average life expectancy to be 100 years. When 100 years have expired, all members of population A are deceased. However, population A spawned population B, which is active and moving towards population C.  Idealogical propagation refers to science, religion, dogma, etc... any cultural inheritance that passes from one generation to the next. Star Trek refers to it as cultural contamination when alien information enters into the mix.


Are you implying that no mater how bad a disaster on a pre-warp world is, they will be able to rebuild their society back to pre-disaster levels within 1,000 years?  What if the disaster completely wiped out every single being?  they certainly couldn't rebuild from that within a 1,000 years.



I was implying that cultural contamination will outlive those "helped", because their life spans are comparatively short against ideological inheritance. To demonstate, humans live an average of 70/80 years while Germ Theory is over 200 years old (dating back to the late 1700's). So you might help an immediate population density to live another four decades, but could screw up their culture for centuries. The two times are disproporational.


To answer the scenario posed above... a pre-warp society may or may not recover their status in a 1,000 years. They may adapt to such an obstacle in ways that lead them in new directions. Those directions are for the pre-warp civilization to discover, not for us to set forth.


Data Logan, you'll have to provide a specific example for a disaster that would destroy every inhabitant, as I'm only willing to address those possiblities on a case by case basis.



I argue that the time scale for Prime Directive decisions is the very issue.  It IS there to prevent the short-term emotionalism and make people think in a more long-term sense.  But I argue that the "long-term" sense that people should be thinking in is a mater of centuries and not millions or billions of years, like you seem to be arguing.


As noted above, I'm defining "long-term" to be on the order of centuries and/or millenia. "Millions or billions of years" was an assumption on your part. But I also apologize for any vagueness as the result of being brief.


Not making a decision is just a big cop-out, as I think Treknoir is arguing.


If no decision was made, then a ship would stay in orbit forever while pondering action. Deciding not to help isn't a cop-out. It is quite possible for Starfleet Captains to defer the matter to the Federation Council. It shouldn't be up to a single Captain to dedicate the resources of 150 world to one planet in need. And the most important matter of the Prime Directive, which I wish to stress, is its directedness at horizontal and participatory management. 


 


 


 

BrotherofShran01

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Report this Feb. 21 2011, 4:38 pm

Leave it in the hands of the diplomats

UFP2009

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Report this Feb. 26 2011, 7:09 pm

The Prime Directive needs to be made clear; in some circumstances intervention by a tech. advanced society is acceptable but most primitive societies, unless they are hostile by nature, should be left alone. If an advanced society reveals itself, then they should remain and guide the more primitive society but socialogically first followed by technology.


I wanna change my User name.

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