The Ethics of Star Trek

Judith Barad, Author, Ed Robertson, With
Judith Barad, Author, Ed Robertson, With HarperCollins $23 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-019530-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-06-093326-5
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""One reason why Star Trek has endured... is that most of the stories... are indeed moral fables,"" say Barad, professor of philosophy at Indiana University, and Robertson, author of The Fugitive Recaptured. Using episodes from the four Star Trek TV series, they travel through various universes of ethical theory: in chapters with titles like ""Kirk Finds the Golden Mean"" and ""Kirk and Kira Battle Evil: Christian Ethics,"" the authors offer useful and evenhanded introductions to the ethical theories of Aristotle, Epicurus and the Stoics, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and contemporary ethicist Tom Regan (known mostly for his writings on animal rights). For instance, Plato argued that the four virtues of temperance, courage, wisdom and justice would be the hallmarks of the ideal republic. Barad and Robertson contend that Spock and Kirk exhibit courage in an episode called ""The Savage Curtain"" when they fight off shadows of four of history's most evil creatures to prove that good is mightier than evil. ""The Original Series most clearly reflects Aristotelian virtue;"" the authors contend, The Next Generation exemplifies ""the ethics of duty... Deep Space Nine, existentialism; and Voyager, Platonic virtue."" Their effort to popularize a difficult subject occasionally results in egregious misreadings. Nietzsche, for instance, did not base his philosophy on the concept that ""might makes right,"" as he abhorred every system of subjugation and suggested that we are all continually engaged in overcoming such systems. Overall, philosophically inclined Trekkies will want to beam this book up to their shelves, but it is hard to imagine that this book will boldly go where no other introduction to ethics has goneDamong the broadest range of students and general readers. (Dec. 1)
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