(TOS: "Bread and Circuses"; TNG: "Angel One") Despite this, it was occasionally described as a principle of the Federation or its people. These ranged from total annihilation of civilizations through assimilation (for example, the Borg), to planetary relocation when the society was endangered on its homeworld (for example, the Preservers), to providing advanced knowledge on an ad hoc basis when the society was deemed ready (for example, the Vulcans), to interfering whenever doing so was seen as vaguely amusing (for example, the Q). Maybe this is why the Prime Directive is not an exceptionless rule: Even if Starfleet ought not to play God, nor to use its superior technologies to impose its will by force, ultimately ethics may require that we trust members of other civilizations to choose their own paths even as they grapple with the possibilities presented by contact with Starfleet. (DS9: "Captive Pursuit"; VOY: "Thirty Days"; TOS: "The Omega Glory"), There can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. The story is a pair of bookends around a notional TOS “4th season” episode in which there's a catastrophic alleged failure to follow the Prime Directive. For example, the Prime Directive primarily applied to societies that had little to no actual knowledge of other worlds and space-faring civilizations (as with certain pre-warp civilizations). Times - both justified or not - the characters of Star Trek broke the federation's biggest rule. You may opt-out by. The conflict between acting on conscience to free people that you believe need your help, or to leave them be, reflected the times as Star Trek ran during the Vietnam War. In fact, under the rules as defined in the Directive in the 24th century, a Starfleet crew was forbidden from forcibly removing Federation citizens from a world, even if they had intentionally and materially interfered with the culture of a world in a way that would otherwise have been prohibited by the Prime Directive. Kirk and Spock in 'Return of the Archons' - the first episode referencing the Prime Directive.... [+] (Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection). In a foreshadowing of the Prime Directive, Archer commented that eventually, Starfleet would have to "come up with some sort of a doctrine" establishing what Humans should and should not do while exploring space and interacting with other lifeforms. The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. There are many examples of actions during the 23rd and 24th centuries that were either identified at the time as violations of, or could appear to have potentially been violations of, the Prime Directive. At least once per season. Built into the Prime Directive is an assumption that cultures are better off if left to their own devices (whether those “devices” are social practices or concrete technologies). (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"; TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"; DIS: "New Eden") By virtue of joining the United Federation of Planets member planets were subject to its laws, regulations, and authority. The text was slightly edited by the individual who made the prop for the film. In particular, the Prime Directive is aimed at preventing interference with the internal development of civilizations that are less technologically advanced. Providing knowledge of other inhabited worlds (even if individuals or governments in the society were already aware of such) to peoples who had not started using warp technology (, Providing knowledge of technologies or science (, Taking actions to generally affect a society's overall development (, Taking actions which supported one faction within a society over another (, Helping a society escape the negative consequences of its own actions (, Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction, unless the society had warp technology and had formally requested aid (, Subverting or avoiding the application of a society's laws (, Interfering in the internal affairs of a society (, The Prime Directive applied to "a living, growing culture"; a culture that wasn't, Cultures already contaminated could be "repaired" but the allowed scope of those repairs is unknown (, Likewise, cultures already contaminated that could be "repaired" but the repairs do not interfere with the natural pre-contact growth of the society (, A society that sent a general distress call to any space-faring culture, If a society already knew of and had contacted the Federation (e.g., seeking assistance; treaty matters), they could be exempted (, If a material injustice involving a Federation citizen would occur absent the interference, the situation, If the quadrant in which the culture resided had lost a large number of lives, an exemption could be made (, The society hails or attacks a Federation vessel (, The society was previously interfered with by non-Federation citizens (e.g., Klingons) in a manner that would have violated the Prime Directive had it been done by Starfleet personnel (, Compliance with specific orders that could not be followed if the Prime Directive fully applied (e.g., ancillary to a war with the Federation; first contact missions; diplomatic missions; trade negotiations) (, The society was in diplomatic discussions with the Federation (, The society had been contacted by Starfleet but, upon recommendation by the contact/survey team, the planet was nonetheless subject to the Prime Directive as though such contact had not occurred (, In an attempt to gain diplomatic alliances and hide their activities, the, When two Ferengi attempted to exploit the people of, In 2267 Captain Kirk severely damaged a computer system on, During a Starfleet-ordered contact to open negotiations with the, When participating in a rescue mission of a, Captain Sisko used his superior knowledge regarding the engineering systems of the, The Prime Directive did not go into effect as a general order until sometime after the, While the Prime Directive was not officially formulated until after the 2160s, the fundamental principles were an important part of Earth Starfleet procedures as early as 2152, with the crew of the, The Temporal Prime Directive is referenced in the novel. I’m a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at San José State University, where my teaching and research are focused on the intersections of scientific…. (Star Trek Into Darkness; TOS: "Errand of Mercy", "The Return of the Archons", "The Apple") Captain Kirk also at least twice attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of a civilization when he believed that higher ethics compelled or justified such actions. (TNG: "Coming of Age") On very rare occasions, captains could declare that the Prime Directive could be temporarily suspended for a period of time. The Same Reason You Would Study Anything Else, The (Mostly) Quantum Physics Of Making Colors, This Simple Thought Experiment Shows Why We Need Quantum Gravity, How The Planck Satellite Forever Changed Our View Of The Universe. General Order #1's text is as follows: This phrasing of General Order One has its origins in the FASA Star Trek Role-Playing Game (The Federation sourcebook, p. 5). Also, did you know that Picard did math in his spare time? -Why are you not allowed to interfere with civilizations even if they're doomed? Star Trek - Prime Directive (Audiobook) Read by James Doohan (September 1, 1990)Starfleet's most sacred commandment has been violated. Journey with Spock, … 2, p. 180) has a picture of a prop made for Admiral Christopher Pike's office in Star Trek Into Darkness. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. (TNG: "Angel One"), The Prime Directive is not a matter of degree. Unsurprisingly, some Starfleet officers had issues with the Prime Directive, especially when they saw people suffering and knew they … Want to read more on the science of Star Trek? An email will not be created automatically. 13 Times Star Trek Broke Its Own Prime Directive. Really sharing a universe is itself a kind of intervention. To do so, the authors try to shoehorn all of the examples into twelve categories. (ENT: "The Communicator", "Cogenitor"; TOS: "A Piece of the Action"), The directive remained in effect well into the 24th century and applied to at least Starfleet and Merchant Marine personnel, but specifically did not apply to ordinary Federation citizens. The Prime Directive was viewed as so fundamental to Starfleet that officers swore to uphold the Prime Directive, even at the cost of their own life or the lives of their crew. What Was It Like When The Universe First Created More Matter Than Antimatter? The Prime Directive (officially Starfleet Order 1) is a prohibition on interference with the other cultures and civilizations representatives of Starfleet encounter in their exploration of the universe. An example of this was "The Omega Directive". I don't really understand the prime directive: -Any interference in pre-warp cultures if forbidden, but active observation is not. This prop has text for the first three Starfleet General Orders. In the end, they decided that interfering with the natural evolutionary course of these two species would go against the "directive" upon which they based their entire mission: to meet new species and attempt peaceful communications, not to "play God". The trick is finding a way to share it on something like equal terms. Prime One of the TNG writers commented "who cares about Prime Directive issues?" Una quickly shut down this line of questioning by saying she had not, and for the sake of his sanity nor should Spock. Simply stated, it meant that any and all members of Starfleet should not interfere in the natural development of a society, even if it meant saving lives. (Recall that the original run of Star Trek coincided with the Vietnam War, American involvement in which made a policy of non-interference look pretty good to many viewers.). Other organizations and cultures outside of Federation had different approaches to matters regarding interference with societies. The creation of the Prime Directive, on the meta level, stems from the desire of the show’s creators—specifically Gene Coon—to criticize the Vietnam War … The Prime Directive did not apply equally to all societies on all planets at all times. Someday my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that tells us what we can and can't do out here, should and shouldn't do. Starfleet's non-interference Prime Directive has an obscure beginning in Star Trek history. I’m a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at San José State University, where my teaching and research are focused on the intersections of scientific knowledge-building and ethics. Some actions were clearly forbidden by the Prime Directive when it did apply to a society. (TOS: \"Bread and Circuses\"; TNG: \"First Contact\", \"Who Watches The Watchers\") But it als… The Prime Directive had exceptions and allowed for violations if satisfactory reasons were given. The list of Picard’s obtuse, stochastic treatments of the Prime Directive is long and this post is long enough. Improve this question. sticklers for Starfleet regulations could go into detail. asked Jan 21 '15 at 23:26. Its first mention, and indeed ONLY mention in all of the first season, is in a brief exchange between Kirk and Spock in "The Return of the Archons", where they quickly decide that the directive doesn't really apply to this week's situation. How well does it work as an ethical rule? The Prime Directive forbids Starfleet interference with alien cultures less advanced than the Federation. The executive summary of the order given in the 1968 episode “Bread and Circuses” is: no identification of self or mission; no interference with the social development of said planet; no references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations. (VOY: "Flashback", "Equinox"), Shortly after coming aboard the Enterprise, Spock asked Number One if she had ever considered that the Prime Directive was not only unethical, but also illogical and perhaps morally indefensible. I have blogged about ethics and science since 2005, and I am committed to the goal of helping scientists and non-scientists do a better job of sharing a world with each other. Prime Directive is a 1990 novel written by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.Jean-Luc Picard. Find out whether transporters could work in real life here. 23.4k 13 13 gold badges 93 93 silver badges 168 168 bronze badges. Even though Starfleet officers take an oath to uphold the Prime Directive even if it means sacrificing their own lives or the lives of their crews, as practiced, across several episodes of the various Star Trek series, it was not inviolable. (VOY: "The Omega Directive") Any action deemed to have violated the Prime Directive (including through claiming an unjustified exception or having a weak rationale regarding actions otherwise constituting a violation) could result in punishment ranging from a formal reprimand and demotion of rank all the way to arrest and court martial. Share. If your concern is not to change the natural behavior or development of alien citizens at any cost, your best bet is to stay at home rather than to explore new worlds. But it turns out that some of … Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions.Jean-Luc Picard. For example, the Prime Directive primarily applied to societies that had little to no actual knowledge of other worlds and space-faring civilizations (as with certain pre-warp civilizations). Although a cornerstone of Federation philosophy, the scope of the Prime Directive varied depending on many factors. Later in the same year, an ethical dilemma was faced by Captain Archer and Phlox when the Enterprise NX-01 encountered two species, one with a terminal genetic illness and the other without. © 2021 Forbes Media LLC. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses"; TNG: "First Contact", "Who Watches The Watchers") But it also applied to the internal affairs of societies which knew extensively of other worlds (for example, interference in purely internal affairs by Starfleet was not permitted in the Klingon Civil War). (Cinefantastique, volume 24, issue 1, page 30), For additional meanings of "Prime Directive", please see, For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, Interference with societies unaware of other worlds, Interference with societies aware of other worlds. Follow edited Sep 21 '15 at 4:56. Fans will be able to subscribe or download Prime Directive: The Official Star Trek Podcast via StarTrek.com as well as Apple Podcasts, … (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky") On the other hand, both Captains Picard and Janeway were prepared to watch whole societies perish from natural causes rather than interfere – even when others were seeking to prevail upon them that Starfleet's role should permit actively saving societies rather than passively watching them die. Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. The answer is loads. Captain James T. Kirk seemed to violate it with some regularity, and sticklers for Starfleet regulations could go into detail about circumstances in which strict adherence to the Prime Directive is not required. However, there were societies who had similar rules against interference or sharing technology. (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"), Federation citizens did not need an exception as the Prime Directive did not apply to them. GURPS Prime Directive is a Powered by GURPS set in the Star Fleet Universe, a variant of the canonal Star Trek Universe. I write about the ethics and philosophy of science. (TOS: "The Return of the Archons", "The Apple", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", "A Private Little War"; TNG: "Conspiracy", "Justice", "Pen Pals", "Who Watches The Watchers"; DS9: "Captive Pursuit"; VOY: "Time and Again", "Prototype") If a decision was made by the commanding officer that could potentially be a violation of the Prime Directive, the conclusions and rationale would need to be recorded and justified to Starfleet through the ship's or station's logs. It's the end of Ferengi civilization as we know it and it's all your fault.Quark, Starfleet as an organization had the greatest respect for and required compliance with the Prime Directive. Although a cornerstone of Federation philosophy, the scope of the Prime Directive varied depending on many factors. Meta discussion of the Prime Directive. In the fictional universe of Star Trek, the Prime Directive (also known as "Starfleet General Order 1", "General Order 1", and the "non-interference directive") is a guiding principle of Starfleet, prohibiting its members from interfering with the internal and natural development of alien civilizations. (Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection), Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Indirect Contributions Are Essential To Physics, The Crisis In Theoretical Particle Physics Is Not A Moral Imperative, Why Study Science? (TNG: "Symbiosis"; Star Trek: Insurrection; VOY: "Prime Factors", "False Profits"), The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy… and a very correct one. The Prime Directive is a plot device cooked up by a patently optimistic TV writer (either Trek producer Gene L. Coon or writer Theodore Sturgeon, … Rather, it’s more like the problem primatologists encounter in field studies, of whether their presence, if noticed by the primates they are observing, somehow deforms the natural behavior of these primates. A complicated order, the Prime Directive had 47 sub-orders by the latter part of the 24th century. (TOS: "The Omega Glory", "Bread and Circuses") But not all Federation citizens, or even all Starfleet personnel, believed that strict adherence to the Prime Directive under every circumstance was in the best interests of the civilizations it was designed to protect. The Prime Directive reflects both a consequentialist commitment to reducing harm and a Kantian commitment to respecting the autonomy of others. The Prime Directive as a general prohibition against interference was unique to the United Federation of Planets. Not to pick on Picard or TNG, all of the Trek captains routinely break the rule.. Memory Alpha, the de facto wiki of Star Trek, attempts to explain exceptions to the Prime Directive. Its most honored captain is in disgrace, its most celebrated starship in pieces, and the crew of that ship scattered among the thousand worlds of the Federation… Journey with Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the former crew of the starship Enterprise to Talin—the planet where their careers ended. And there’s a way in which respecting a civilization’s autonomy by withholding information about self, mission, and other worlds could be downright paternalistic. Due to issues of security, only Starfleet officers ranked captain and above were privy to knowledge of this directive. The email will only be created once you click on the "Send Email" button. I have a BA in Chemistry and Philosophy from Wellesley College, a PhD in Chemistry from Stanford University, and a PhD in Philosophy (with a concentration in History and Philosophy of Science) from Stanford University. (TOS: "Journey to Babel") The result was a spectrum of application: the more closely a civilization was tied to the Federation or Earth the greater the amount of interference in that civilization that was tolerated within the Prime Directive. Learn all about geology and silicon-based life here. What Is (And Isn't) Scientific About The Multiverse, The Pillars Of Creation Haven't Been Destroyed, Say New NASA Images. Publisher Description Starfleet's most sacred commandment has been violated. This promoted debate among command crews about whether the Prime Directive would (or should) apply, and how best to balance competing ethical priorities. Dr. Leonard McCoy was transported from 2267 to 1930 by the Guardian of Forever. 10. The Prime Directive in Star Trek considers moral and ethical obligations first, rather than technological achievement, as a benchmark for interactions with new civilizations. All it takes is for one impressionable youngster to join Starfleet, and the next thing you know, a whole generation of Ferengi will be quoting the Prime Directive and abandoning the pursuit of latinum. 66.3k 30 30 gold badges 274 274 silver badges 519 519 bronze badges. That's why there's … When Captain Jonathan Archer discovered that the Fazi were less develope… Often Right. Sharing a universe with another culture is a different kind of project than treating that culture only as an object of study. It goes like this: “No identification of self or mission. This way, Starfleet isn't given into the temptation to influence the development of planets and alien … – … (TNG: "Homeward", "Pen Pals"; VOY: "Time and Again") This range of conduct could even be found within a single individual: Captain Janeway once opined that 23rd century Starfleet officers such as Kirk were "a little too slow to invoke the Prime Directive," but she herself admitted to having "bent it on occasion" during her travels in the Delta Quadrant. This is not quite the same as the “measurement problem” for quantum mechanical systems, where our measurements of such systems involves hitting them with electrons or photons or other stuff very similar in properties to the system we’re trying to measure (and where that measurement is not simply revealing the pre-existing state of the system but collapsing the wave-function to make the state you’re measuring). Example: In Symbiosis (TNG 1x22) Picard saved an Ornaran … But until somebody tells me that they've drafted that… directive… I'm going to have to remind myself every day that we didn't come out here to play God.Jonathan Archer, sensing the need for the Prime Directive. This embodies a kind of anti-colonialist ethos, a commitment to respecting a civilization's own values, beliefs, and practices rather than imposing “better” ones upon them. Sharing a universe with other beings involves a kind of reciprocity — even if your technological attainment is quite different, it means recognizing you are owed the same moral consideration. No interference with the social development of said planet. The origins of the Prime Directive began with humanity's first great exploration of the galaxy around them in the 2150s, with the Enterprise. There's no denying the profound influence that the Star Trek franchise has had on our shared popular culture. Sharing a universe with other beings puts you in a different relationship with them than you would be with photons or prosimians you want to understand. star-trek star-trek-tng jean-luc-picard prime-directive. The Prime Directive prohibits interfering in the … In the Star Trek franchise, the Prime Directive is one of the chief guiding principals of the intergalactic Starfleet. They, of course, have never heard it verbatim although all the viewers have. Zibbobz Zibbobz. In one Star Trek episode, a character quotes the Prime Directive to two other characters as a reminder. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses") The directive provided guidance on what constituted prohibited "interference" with a society, covering such matters as: Someday my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that tells us what we can and can't do out here; should and shouldn't do. But if the Prime Directive seems to line up with some strong moral intuitions — that we should respect the autonomy of other cultures and strive not to inflict even unintentional harms on them — it also bumps up against the fact that Star Trek is all about the ethical project of sharing a universe. (TOS novel: Strangers from the Sky) In 2151, the Enterprise made contact with the Fazi and the Hipon on the planet Fazi. First, do no harm — Why Star Trek’s Prime Directive could never be enforced We asked lawyers to explain how the show's most famous rule would really work. In the 24th century versions of Star Trek—The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine—characters mention the “Temporal Prime Directive… Captain James T. Kirk noted that the Prime Directive was intended to apply only to living, growing civilizations and felt it was appropriate to interfere where societies had been enslaved, were in a state of total stagnation (also known as an arrested culture), or even in mortal danger. In Star Trek, the Prime Directive was the compass for all Starfleet personnel. Intervening is presumed to contaminate “natural” behaviors and the authentic causal chains (including eventual development of indigenous technologies) that flow from them. (TOS: "The Omega Glory") Some examples included: There were, however, two circumstances in which the Prime Directive was suspended in its entirety. The Prime Directive applies particularly to civilizations which are below a certain threshold of technological, scientific and cultural development; preventing starshipcrews from us… Less advanced than the Federation 's biggest rule Directive to two other characters as a General to. 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Interfere with civilizations even if they 're doomed they encounter while on their journeys publisher Description Starfleet 's most commandment. Other characters as a General approach to the United Federation of planets and alien What.