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The Star Trek episode “Measure of a Man” is an episode directly related to the movie Star Trek. The movie franchise and the television series spot a sci-fi theme where there is an interplanetary federation and enforcers who make sure there is peace and security. The cast of the involves both human beings and automated machines like Lt. Commander Data who will prominently feature in the legal tussle that results later on.
The title captures the theme in the episode where there is a tussle over the extent to which an android, Data can be humanized and if he can enjoy privileges like a human being. Many characters play protagonists while other play antagonists in their quest to prove Data as either a mere machine or different kinds of machine with abilities hence can measure up as a human being. The setting of the episode is on the Starfleet ship, inspired by the United States war ship the USS Enterprise.
The ship is commandeered by P is Captain Picard, D is Data, M is Maddox, J is Judge Phillippa Louvois, R is Commander Riker. G is, at different but completely separate times, Geordie and Guinan. Also comprising of the ships leadership are Ob is O’Brien; Pu is Dr. Pulaski, W is Wesley, Ad is the admiral. C is the computer.
The entire episode is laced with arguments concerning the fate of Data. There is conflict between Maddox and Captain Picard when the admiral introduces the commander and reveals that he is intending to work on the android that is Data.
Apparently, Maddox is keen on continuing the work of Data’s creator, Dr. Noonian Soong. Maddox wants to create numerous perhaps thousands of robots, replicas of Data that will help in the running of the ships and also enhancing security especially where living creatures have weaknesses.
Maddox intends to achieve this through dismantling Data and studying his make up so that he can produce the replicas. Captain considers Data to be one of his officers despite Data being just an android. He also presents an argument that Data, as fully commissioned officer and a member of the federation has rights that must be respected.
Data as well is not pleased with Maddox’s plan and is of the opinion that he has a duty to defend what his creator had made vis avis his dream. Further, on the advice of Judge Phillippa Data tries to corner Maddox through resigning his post as an officer in the federation.
Maddox is not pleased with the maneuvers the supposed machine is making and is forced to seek legal action. In the hearing that follows, data wins and is declared free with freedom to choose just like other serving officers who are humans. The ruling effectively puts brakes to Maddox’s plan of dismantling Data and using him as his guide to making multiple androids.
Throughout the episode are arguments that centering on the pros and cons of having data remain intact or be dismantled. Many people feel Data has a right to remain intact and enjoy full rights as an officer while Maddox can have none of it. The arguments from the offices to the courts will be the subject of discussion in this paper. The paper will seek to analyze critical thinking thoughts presented in the arguments and the logic that they present.
It is important to recognize arguments before you evaluate them (Hurley 14). Evaluation or recognition of a reasonable argument can be done through the use of numerous methods. In analyzing and evaluating the arguments presented in this episode, the paper will utilize multiple methods used at arriving critical thinking.
However, the commonest will be the use of the elements of reasoning which are quite helpful in crafting and evaluating arguments. The elements are commonly referred to as the critical thinking wheel. Whenever they are applied, it is imperative to use the questions and answers that it mandates to evaluate arguments.
The likely goals and objectives of an author in an argument is one of the dimensions that the wheel advocates for. There is also the question of the question at hand, the question that deals with the available information which can also be referred to as the empirical domain of inquiry.
It is also important that an argument contains inferences and relevant concepts. Another dimension of the wheel of critical thought that will be used in this evaluation is the assumptions that underlie the arguments together with the implications and repercussions that will result from accepting the argument. Finally, there is the question of the relevant points of view that an argument must have to qualify as an argument. All the above will be taken to consideration in the analysis of the arguments present in the Star Trek episode.
Captain Picard and Judge Phillippa argue about the reason why she quit her job before again making a come back. The Captain believes that the judge had no reason to quit due stubbornness and pride while the judge insists she was forced out of the job. The captain aims to lay the blame on the judge’s feet.
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He aims at reminding g the judge that quitting is really not an option one should purse. In other words, the ego and pride that the judge sought to protect is even more injured after she eats humble pie and returns to work. The captain in essence displays blatant assumption that quitting her job was her fault. The question that the captain aims to present is why she quit her job and why is she back after such a long time. According to him, the judge should have moved on and never come back to do the job she despises again.
Though the argument is to some extent devoid of logic, it has concepts like “stubborn pride”. When carefully looked at, the consequence and the subtle underlying issue of not quitting is clearly brought out when the captain fights all the way to end in defense of Data’s rights. This argument brings our different relevant views of like strong work ethics and strong personal morals that especially discourage people from quitting their causes.
The above argument spills over to the judge’s previous work. The captain apparently was prosecuted by the judge. He holds the opinion whatever motivated her to prosecute him was not purely work related. The captain insists the judge enjoyed the prosecution and that the whole process was motivated by adversarial tendencies rather than finding the truth. Phillippa does admit that she did not expect to see the Captain but again she grudgingly admits that it is good to see him which is more or less sarcastic.
The intention of the captain is to make the judge aware that he still hasn’t forgotten what she did and that he thinks it was motivated by malice. The argument does not have a logical conclusion but it does have some logic in it. Phillippa only prosecuted the captain because the ship was lost. She was only carrying out her duties.
Whether she did it professionally of not is a different question all together. One can therefore say that it’s logically consistent that prosecution be pursued when a mistake is done. If it went for the lost ship, them Phillippa would probably have no grounds to settle any scores she had with the captain. Standard procedure, adversarial process and truth come out as the main concepts in these arguments while search for justice comes out as the main assumption of this argument.
Data and Maddox argue about the necessary procedures that Maddox has to master before he conducts any experiment on Data. Data believes Maddox has to learn the concept of electronic resistance across neural filaments. On the other hand, Maddox believes he can do so after dismantling Data from where he can learn about the robots anterior cortex.
Picard and Data press Maddox to be particular on specifics. The captain seizes the chance and clearly states his position about releasing Data. Maddox argues that he is in possession of transfer orders hence nothing can stop him.
In the argument, Picard and Data aim to persuade if not to discourage Maddox from going forward with his experiment. Both officers try to argue against Maddox on technicalities but Maddox is better armed with the law. The questions here are whether Data should be released to be the specimen for Maddox’s experiment and if he is adequately prepared to undertake it. Picard and Data doubt Maddox Capability to pull off the experiment hence the objections they raise.
There is hardly any logic in this argument because Maddox lacks concrete reasons why he should take on this project. Moreover, Maddox is cannot commit to the specifics denying any sense to his argument that the project is necessary for the good of the federation. In his argument, Maddox assumes that Data is a machine that does not have rights and that should wait and have decisions made on its behalf.
Maddox and Data have an argument when the captain suggests to the robot that he resigns. Maddox is stunned that Data has resigned and the android tell him to his face that he under no one’s orders. Data argues that he is the product of one mans dream. The doctor who created him had a vision and he achieved it through him. He therefore cannot subject himself to any experiment. That will effectively mean killing the dream. So to avoid killing the dream, he has to resign.
Data’s argument is meant to discourage Maddox from implementing the project. It also serves as a reminder to Maddox that he cannot have the robot as easily as he thinks. The question here is if the dream of one man is important than the interest of the entire federation. Additionally, the question of whether the machine has any rights arises. The fact that he resigns just like any officer is reason enough to mull about the extent to which machines like Data can have rights like human beings.
The concept of the dream is captured in the argument. Data is trying to protect the dream of his creator while Maddox is trying to fulfill his own dream of creating numerous ‘Datas’. Both officers assume their individual interests are important to their causes. Maddox on his part assumes that he is pursuing a higher cause than what data is trying to protect.
Captain Picard and Maddox have an argument that includes the slight involvement of Judge Phillippa. Maddox thinks the captain is being over sentimental and emotional. The captain defends Data’ intended resignation and describes him as one of Starfleet’s officer. Maddox opposes the resignation.
He reveals how replication of Data will bring boundless benefits to humanity and for that reason, the robot must not resign. Picard introduces the issue of rights that Data is entitled which greatly angers Maddox. He acknowledges that Data is a wonderful creature but the bottom-line remains he is a machine. Picard argues that Starfleet has laws that protect Data and that they must be respected.
The ultimate survival or dismantling of Data is discussed in this argument. The goal is for both officers to try to defend their causes without much involvement of the legal process. The question here is whether Data can be treated before the law like a normal human being or not.
The concept of the law as it applies to property is revealed here. There is no consensus if Data is an officer or merely a smart machine that is seeking human treatment, which is almost impossible. The clear assumption here comes from Maddox who believes just like office computers, Data is a property. He therefore has no right to determine what should be done to him.
Captain Picard successfully argues in courts that Data is not a machine. Riker who is leading the case against Data argues that Data is a machine hence not entitled to all the rights that life forms have. Riker says that Data is a physical representation of a dream whose only need is to serve human needs and interests.
Geordie counters Riker’s argument saying that Data’s treatment is similar to that many disposable creatures have undergone in many world. The living creatures only hide behind the notion of property in their quest to use creatures like Data. Picard argues that human beings are machines too.
According to him, they are machines that were built using the building blocks of the DNA. In other words, there is enough evidence to support the classification of humans as machines. Therefore, if Data is to be dismantled, the same fate can befall humans as well. They also argue that creating thousands of Data is tantamount to creating a whole race. If their rights will not be respected, then there lies a real catastrophe.
In their arguments in court, the captain and Geordia aim to convince the authorities that Data is an officer and therefore deserves the rights of like other officers. They incorporate the concept of race into the argument, which helps judge Phillippa careful consider their request that Data should not be dismantled.
The assumption here is that Data who performs duties and goes through all the procedures any officer at Starfleet goes through should not be subjected to intrusions like fronted by Maddox. They also assume that even non-living creature that act on the direction of human beings need to be respected.
There are a few more arguments in the movie not tackled in the paper. Most of the arguments however lack a logical process that justifies the reasoning that is presented by many characters. Most of the arguments though are valid and do provide grounds for a critical analysis of their content. Given that most of the arguments center on the rights of Data and his right to exist, deductive reasoning and logic is evenly spread hence only subtly brought out in some of the arguments.
Hurley, Patrick. A Concise Introduction to Logic (10th Ed.). Belmont: Thomson Learning, 2006. Print.