Prime Directive debate

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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by amehatrekkie » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:19 pm

thanks for sharing....it's a interesting read
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by Captain Marshal » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:00 am

Just thought the thread should be brought back to the fore.

JM, while I may not fully agree with you, I fully see your point.

To the others who have spent time and logic commenting...while I'm not as dogmatic on the issue these days as I was a year ago, I do still hold fast to the spirit and letter of the Prime Directive: Do not interfere. Someone opened up a discussion on Prime Directive violations a short while ago and I felt it was appropriate to remind everyone this thread exists. I'm personally curious to see where everyone who was here stand on this issue these days or if they're still the same.
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by AdmiralSirJohn » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:23 am

Ultimately, unless we know the sub-orders, we can debate this until we're all blue in the face and hating each other and nothing will be decided. There will always be those who say "don't do anything, ever" and others who say "do what you can without tipping the culture off to your presence".

And the dinosaur example, I believe, is irrelevant. A starship captain of the time would have had to act on what he could determine from conditions at the time. Unless that captain could see all of time, he would have no idea that those little rodents would some day evolve into a sentient species called Humanity. At the same time, I would have been just as proper for him to sit back and do nothing, as there was no indication of an existing civilization on Earth at that time.

I think, ultimately, the operative word in the Prime Directive is civilization, which comes from sentience. Once a planet develops a sentient species, that species should be protected from any natural disasters which would eradicate it. By this, I mean disasters from without: asteroid or cometary impact and active interference by other species. What the native civilization does with itself, however (including self-extermination), the captain has no business determining. The realm of biological disaster is a gray area, though, as such could be treated without the populace knowing. However, I would postulate that the prevailing policy is to let such things play out on their own.

In short, my interpretation of the Prime Directive is "keep them safe from external harm so they can develop on their own".
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by Captain Marshal » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:39 am

AdmiralSirJohn wrote:Ultimately, unless we know the sub-orders, we can debate this until we're all blue in the face and hating each other and nothing will be decided. There will always be those who say "don't do anything, ever" and others who say "do what you can without tipping the culture off to your presence".
Too true. It would have been more helpful if the writers had been more specific rather than merely hinting here and there about the various sub-orders, forcing us to speculate and postulate the exact wording. We're merely left with a biased opinion of the captains dealing the the Prime Directive, which doesn't help much either way.
AdmiralSirJohn wrote:And the dinosaur example, I believe, is irrelevant. A starship captain of the time would have had to act on what he could determine from conditions at the time. Unless that captain could see all of time, he would have no idea that those little rodents would some day evolve into a sentient species called Humanity. At the same time, I would have been just as proper for him to sit back and do nothing, as there was no indication of an existing civilization on Earth at that time.
Many seem to agree on that point. I, though, still submit that dinosaurs would be deemed sentient and thus fall under the purview of the Prime Directive. This I believe means a passing starship captain in the situation of diverting the comet or not would be bound to take NO action.

In the Lost Era novel, The Buried Age, it tackles the issue of the Prime Directive in several lines with relevance to our discussion here. The interstellar coalition formed by the Manraloth were a civilization comparable to the Federation some 300 million years previous. This is the view of one of their survivors on the Prime Directive as imposed by Starfleet compared to what they did in their time, which is essentially what many here on this thread agree with:
page 291 wrote:-Manraloth (Critique): Did we have a Prime Directive like yours? No. It is cowardly and criminal to leave young civilizations to struggle alone, to endure plague and warfare and superstitious hatred.
-Picard (Proponent): To develop their own identity, their own unique perspective on the universe. To find their own solutions to their problems.
-Manraloth: We did allow them that. We gave them freedom to make their own choices and mistakes, but protected them from the worst ones. Of course it's wrong to do a child's thinking for her, make her dependent on you. But it's just as wrong to abandon her in the wilderness. She may grow up strong if she survives, but she will be scarred forevermore. Scarred as you are now, all you younglings with your wars and occupations and buffer zones.
-Picard: What right do you have to treat other races as your children?
-Manraloth: The right of all sentient beings to care for one another. To have an interest in each other's well being.
For good or ill, the Prime Directive means to let a developing civilization die or thrive on their own. The opposing view argues that one should get involved to save that civ, so long as they were unaware of it. But is it right to act either way? Picard states the point quite succiently: to develop their own identity, their own unique perspective...to find their own solutions to their problems. Like many others, it may not feel right to do nothing but the PD protects one from hanging themselves on the moral dilemmas they are faced with by telling them to not act at all but observe.

If one saves a civilization, that's a first step towards protecting a civilization. Then the next step that would follow would be to protect that same species covertly. Eventually, it would follow that the Federation would do so and declare itself the defenders of all life. To those who would argue otherwise, I ask this question: When we give up an inch on an important idea or principle, aren't more compromises to follow afterwards? Throughout history, when one side of a dispute gives a bit, doesn't the other side ask for ever increasing demands? I submit that the PD is a protection against this line of thought, to protect the Federation itself from becoming like the Manraloth in the novel.

In the case of the dinosaurs, I've come to understand the point leaves alot of grey as they aren't quite a civilization per se. But they had the potential to develop as such. Much as there is potential for something to evolve afterwards. The Voth did pretty well for themselves and are one possible outcome of "finding their own solutions" but mass extinction is another possible outcome. In either case, would it have been better if someone had intervened?
AdmiralSirJohn wrote:I think, ultimately, the operative word in the Prime Directive is civilization, which comes from sentience. Once a planet develops a sentient species, that species should be protected from any natural disasters which would eradicate it. By this, I mean disasters from without: asteroid or cometary impact and active interference by other species. What the native civilization does with itself, however (including self-extermination), the captain has no business determining. The realm of biological disaster is a gray area, though, as such could be treated without the populace knowing. However, I would postulate that the prevailing policy is to let such things play out on their own.

In short, my interpretation of the Prime Directive is "keep them safe from external harm so they can develop on their own".
On the whole, we're in agreement there. It is the impact issue or external disaster that I disagree with many on.

My views extend to include celestial bodies impacting a world and thus destroying or irrecoverably altering a civilization. On my part, it is my belief that if a civilization survives such a disaster, they would make fundamental changes societal-wise, economically, and politically which makes that civilization unique in their own way. Thus they would have more to contribute as a result of their experiences.

The following is an exerpt of the results of a non-interference, non-interaction policy:

[quote="page 399]
Speaker: From what I've learned of the worlds they evolved on...they would've just been developing multicellular life during the Manraloth era. When we came on worlds like that, we declared them off limits for colonization. We wanted to give their biospheres a chance to evolve new forms to add to the diversity of the galaxy[/quote]

This makes it clear that interference is bad, plain and simple, in the case of the PD and in the Manraloth. Both agree we shouldn't involve in developing civilizations but the point is the potential of life is infinite. So infinite that it would be wrong to intervene just for the sake of one's concience and morals. By protecting one sentient group (may or may not be a civilization), you may inadvertantly deny another a chance to evolve on their own.

It is this last part that I believe embodies the spirit of the Prime Directive. To protect developing worlds from interference (internal or external) so a sufficiently advanced civilization that has endured and made its way to join the warp club add its, to quote the Borg, "add its technological and biological distinctiveness) to the galaxy as a whole.

Yes, there may be times we may feel compelled to violate the Prime Directive for our own reasons (justice, morals, ethics, whatever comes to mind) but that's why the Prime Directive is a guideline. So you know there are implications regardless of what you do. Kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't thing.


And on another note ::OT:: , I'd like to apologize to all the many people I may have offended during the previous round of debate on this topic. I tend to get very passionate and defensive on things I strongly believe in. It wasn't until tonight I was able to put my deep philosphical position coherently into words, since I was under alot of stress then and wasn't able to think too clearly. Sorry guys, never meant to do so to those I consider part of my intellectual community. :oops:
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by KahlessOfVulcan » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:17 pm

On my part, it is my belief that if a civilization survives such a disaster, they would make fundamental changes societal-wise, economically, and politically which makes that civilization unique in their own way. Thus they would have more to contribute as a result of their experiences.
And on the other hand, they might all die horribly.

That's kind of like saying you wouldn't try to prevent a child from being struck by a car because if he/she survives, he/she might grow as a result of his/her experiences.

It doesn't take a catastrophe that kills billions to make a culture unique. And besides, a celestial impact doesn't count in my books as natural development, since it comes from an external source. Yes, it's a natural phenomenon...but it's not a natural part of the planet's ecosystem or of its cultural development.
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by amehatrekkie » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:38 pm

"The Buried Age" was an amazing novel....reading that book is one of the things that got the ball rolling on what eventualyl became 'Star Trek: Distant Shores.' until then it basically was just an idea bouncing around my head, whereas i decided to definitely write a fiction whereas before it was just 'possible'

and as far as the prime directive....i've always believed that the captain can save (within reason) a pre-warp race from a natural disaster that they bring on themselves (like an asteroid impact) as long as they're not exposed to alien cultures whereas a race in a WW2 type imminent self-destruction conflict (whether post- or pre-warp) is off limits to any interference since they pretty much chose to fight wars, etc, etc

and as for the dinosaur thing.....who would interfere to save a bunch of reptiles?

there's no evidence that any dinosaur was intelligent beyond predator-like intelligence exhibited by lions, etc, where they learn by experience and basically cubs are taught by their parents how to hunt....even the Australopithicines, who used tools and other exhibted human-like behaviors, showed more intelligence than even the smartest dinosaurs ever did.
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by KahlessOfVulcan » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:44 pm

ambessalion wrote: and as far as the prime directive....i've always believed that the captain can save (within reason) a pre-warp race from a natural disaster that they bring on themselves (like an asteroid impact) as long as they're not exposed to alien cultures whereas a race in a WW2 type imminent self-destruction conflict (whether post- or pre-warp) is off limits to any interference since they pretty much chose to fight wars, etc, etc
That's pretty much how I understand it, although it would vary with the individual circumstances. Basically, "If it's a natural disaster, we'll help quickly and quietly, but if they bring destruction on themselves through foolish choices or other reasons, they're on their own."

Of course, the debate then becomes "What exactly constitutes a natural disaster? What constitutes natural development?"

The other factor is just what constitutes "foolish choices", which begs the question, "Who are you to decide it was a foolish choice?"

There's no solid, black-and-white, 100% reliable solution that works every time, which is why I believe many PD issues would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by amehatrekkie » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:49 pm

KahlessOfVulcan wrote:.....PD issues would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
i think that's pretty much what Picard/Kirk, etc all do....and presumably starfleet backs them up on it since they all pretty much kept their jobs despite the violations
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Re: Prime Directive debate

Post by Captain Marshal » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:13 pm

i think that's pretty much what Picard/Kirk, etc all do....and presumably starfleet backs them up on it since they all pretty much kept their jobs despite the violations
It leads me to wonder what the exact spirit of the directive was and what the letter of it is. It serves as a regulation in most cases and those crews further from Federation space proper are the ones most responsible for upholding the Directive. Yet they are almost always forced to use the Directive as guidelines and suggestions for their situations, many a time adapting or changing. So this gives credence to the idea that the Prime Directive is a living document, still thriving and growing by the year.
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