Re: Universal ethics (was: Metarationality)

From: Alden Streeter (
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 19:37:29 MDT

>From: Cliff Stabbert <>
>Sunday, August 25, 2002, 3:21:44 AM, Mitch Howe wrote:
>MH> There is no cosmic handbook of ethics or extraterrestrial species
>MH> handy to consult.
>MH> One could argue that any intelligent species would roughly share
>MH> our process X, making this issue irrelevant. I don't think this
>MH> is completely wishful thinking since I suspect that any species
>MH> intelligent enough to worry about would at least have to share
>MH> the most fundamental heuristics;
>I think this is the concept behind Star Trek's Prime Directive
>( ):
> 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 healthy development of alien
> life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of
> superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world who 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.

But also notice that almost all of the alien species that the humans run
into in the Star Trek universe are just other humans with funny foreheads.
This is probably based more upon the limitations of special effects and
makeup budgets, and the fact that people want to watch stories about things
they can relate to instead of bizarre aliens with completely
incomprehensible cultures and motivations, rather than any actual scientific
knowledge about aliens. So it is small wonder that the Prime Directive
seems to be almost universally accepted by all the Star Trek aliens, because
they are not really aliens. Therefore this not really a valid example.

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