Is the Prime Directive a rationale for "good men doing nothing"?
Not only the whole crew of the Enterprise had this "don't ask, don't tell" bullshit attitude, Jacques Cousteau had it too. I remember watching a program of Cousteau filming endangered baby sea turtles being hatched on land and struggling to waddle the five feet necessary to get to the ocean and being gobbled up by seagulls while Cousteau and the frogs tsked and fretted but did JACK SQUAT to help the sea turtles. I HATE COUSTEAU!!!
- good for nothing india indians00
- I hate to disagree with you, but I do. Cousteau was all for non-intererence. As is the prime directive. It doesn't prevent atrocities, it simply lets the natural course take its place.
Tell me, what good would it have done if Cousteau had interfered, saved every one of the turtles, and then the outcome would have been a dying of starvation for those he saved because their natural habitat couldn't sustain them? Would that have been more humane? Look at what mans interference in the natural world HAS accomplished. Buffalo brought ot the brink of extinction, an overpopulation of rabbits because coyotes, wolves, were hunted out of an area causing disease and starvation for the rabbits because their environment couldn't sustain them, and the weak and sickly lived.
"As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation."
What could possibly be wrong with giving an undeveloped civilization the technology to create and implement weapons? Why, goodness, they'd only get to kill off anyone that pissed them off more quickly, effectively and humanely.
It takes more moral fibre, more courage, more discretion and more moral/ethical behavior to do nothing than to interfere.01
- A ridiculous premise has a rationale - if skillfully hidden from an audience it provides relief from the terrible monotony that most humans are condemned to suffer. The greater the skill of the poet\dramatist, the more inventive, original, and ridiculous the premise may be. That's what ratio is; that's why, thus far, human being is defined according to pronounced symmetry, ala Blake's "fearful symmetry". Prime directive is dramatic invention. It is dramatic means to dramatic ends. Interesting you present Cousteau with Star Trek - a gestalt, an attempt to bridge the psychological distance between that which is near (animal life, survival, creature empathy) and that which is far (the distant future, scientific navigation to unknown and unfamiliar realms as presaged by non-scientists). Rationale as you imply, no. Monotony with a firm hold on the individual, exploited by the poets? Yes.40
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- The prime directive is an attempt to make toleration into the foundation of ethical behavior. Star Trek was thought of in the 1960's when good liberals suddenly noticed racism and other ills of the day. The good liberals picked up the notion of cultural relativism and decided that each culture should decide it's own fate. We, the descents of white European nations, had thought our culture was superior and therefore had enslaved others, conquered Indians, etc. The logic of cultural relativism was to banish the notion of superiority and make toleration be the fundamental moral principle. But left unexamined was: is toleration really the foundation of morality? If we are truly tolerant we tolerate evil, wicked people doing horrible things. This is why the prime directive in the fictional world of Star Trek is violated all the time within that Universe. We don't like our heroes watching evil and not doing anything to stop it. So yes the prime directive is a rationale to do nothing.
Cousteau's naturalism is a different philosophical attitude than just enshrining toleration as the foundation of morality; his naturalism is an expression of the belief that humanity is separated from nature. We, the interlopers, are some how separate from nature yet at the same time a part of nature. He didn't help the sea turtles because that was the rule of nature as he saw it. Yet at the same time he could and did have problems with humanity's destruction of any natural environment. Somehow we could be blamed for environment damage but we shouldn't help, because that would be interfering in nature, if he or we helped the turtles. The naturalist wants to act like humanity is not here when it suits their concept of nature but blame us when it doesn't. The attitude is very close to the animals rights position that wants us all to give up eating meat because it violates the right of the animal to exist but doesn't acknowledge that if we all stopped eating meat that millions of animals would die of thirst & starvation when we stopped caring for them.21
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