An episode of Star Trek: Voyager

I gather that we’re talking about scientific information obtained through prior amoral acts, and that we’re not talking about the rather easier ethical question of a trade-off of current harm in exchange for good.

So again, if information obtained by prior amoral acts is the only basis for saving millions of innocent children, doubt that anyone would advocate that we should let them all die.

Then as Churchill said, we’ve established what you are and now we’re just haggling over the price.

Saving one innocent individual is surely also good, just less good than saving millions. So exactly how much current good is required before we can utilize scientific information that was obtained by means that caused prior harm?

Since we already have the data, presumably nobody is going to actually initiate an ethical research program to try to obtain the exact same data again. Should we really take some legalistic “fruit of the poisonous tree” stance here, should use of the data for good purposes depend on whether we can theoretically imagine whether we might in principle have obtained the same data through ethical research?

This is a variation of what I shouted at B’Elanna while I was watching the episode. The research is already out there so make some good come from what happened to those people.

“I choose to live, so I can accomplish more good.”
“Sounds noble. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, killing lots of Cardassians.”

She’s not at any point said that anyone else should martyr themselves. She just guessed how she would react if she were Jewish, saying she could see it being different. While we all recognize that the Holocaust was an atrocity, it is far more personal to Jewish people.

And that is relevant to the episode. It is more personal for Torres than it is to others. She was part of the Maquis, a resistance group that fought in part to defend the Bajorans against the Cardassian occupation.

Granted, a better analogy would be if she said she fought in World War II, she might feel differently about accepting it from them.

The issue in the episode, as I remember it, isn’t completely about using information taken from torture. That’s one of Bellana’s objections, but it’s not the only one.

The Doctor foolishly makes a hologram that is specifically designed to replicate the Cardassian’s personality. Granted, it is imperfect, as it’s based on public data–his public persona–but it is close to actually having a real Cardassian work on you. Or, to use the Nazi analogy, having a replication of Mengele himself work on you.

And the situation was presented in such a way that changing things after the fact wasn’t viable, as it would take too much time.

It also deals with the idea of patient autonomy. Even if you disagree with B’Ellana’s position about using the tainted information and having it administered by an imperfect copy of the man, do you have the right to force her to accept it for the good of everyone else? Losing their chief engineer would be a horrible thing for Voyager.

I seem to remember they walk a thin tightrope in the episode, but I don’t remember the exact resolution. But, yes, of course, she’s a main character and survives, so they do resolve it.

(I will now go look up the resolution, but I won’t steel the OP’s thunder by saying what happens.)

I’m still sticking with not stealing the OP’s thunder, but I will point out that the one guy who is a member of the tortured species is more relevant. He doesn’t just want the research and his hologram deleted: he resigns his commission when he thinks he won’t be. And it is very likely many others will do so, too.

These are people whose own parents and grandparents were part of the horrific experiments.

Still, doesn’t it come down to:

“My parents and grandparents were tortured to get this medical breakthrough. I demand that it be destroyed and never used!”

“Well, millions of people will die without it”

“I don’t care!”


Thread relocated from IMHO to Cafe Society. Could have gone either way, but there’s a lot of discussion of the specific episode here, so off it goes.

Briefly, yes. Which specific ones? I don’t know, and I can’t know. That the original research was done by Nazi scientists on prisoners whose crimes was being the wrong sort of person in Nazi territory is hidden from us. The data is collated, re-collated, reference by other people who are references by other people, by others who retested it on animal models and volunteers, and got the same results, and we use* those* results.*** Except***, those new results aren’t as comprehensive, so we use the Nazi data. Its complicated. But something like that. People do study this sort of thing, and are able to backtrack to these sources.

Tangent: are any Nazi mad scientists actually known for their rigorous adherence to the scientific method and the reliability and practical utility of their research? E.g., Mengele is the super genius who came up with “Racial-Morphological Examination of the Anterior Portion of the Lower Jaw in Four Racial Groups”.

Very little.

Mengele wasn’t doing real science at all, just torture.

I, for one, support the use of Hitler/Cardassian Holoslaves!

You could have stolen my “thunder”. I just didn’t feel like making the OP so lengthy to have the episode’s conclusion in it. And I wanted to see where it went before the conclusion was provided in this thread.

Anyway, the conclusion was that the captain had to make a decision on whether B’elanna was to be treated with the Cardassian’s treatment or not. She decided to have her treated. Janeway even said that she was their Chief Engineer and they couldn’t lose her. They need their Chief Engineer to get home. Or to at least maximize the probability of them getting home.

As far as whether to delete the Cardassian and his research from their database, Janeway left that up to the doctor (the emergency medical hologram). And he decided to have him and the research deleted.

I’m with the poster that said, basically, the “bad things” have already happened and can’t be changed. Why not use what was obtained from it for good?

First of all, only an incompetent staff would transport an unknown alien into sick bay without transporting them into a quarantined area, so the very premise of the episode itself is faulted. Secondly, it’s a freaking hologram for God’s sake, not the actual criminal doctor himself. It’s a walking, talking encyclopedia, not a person.

Trouble with that is that the ship itself has a hologram doctor who, if I recall correctly, has at times issues raised about "him"self as to whether or not he is, indeed, a sentient being. Presumably, the same issues would exist with regard to the Dr. Crell Moset (hologram version).

One point: the argument against keeping and using the data is that it provides incentive for future unethical testing, as “it’s the results that matter, not the methods”. “Once we have the data, it won’t matter how we got it.”

Is it always possible to completely and thoroughly forget about the data, though? Another example: the physician Galen performed all sorts of nasty experiments involving vivisection of live animals.

No, that’s a much simpler moral question, and not the one under consideration. It only provides an inappropriate incentive if the unethical researchers themselves benefit from use of the data. Here we’re talking about saving innocent people.

I find it hard to take the alleged quandary seriously, too. If the victim of the person represented by the hologram is having a problem then after the medical crisis is averted, let them spend all the time they want “torturing” the hologram for revenge

And if we’re going to play the “but a sufficiently advanced hologram is just like a real person” card, let them make a holographic version of James T. Kirk, put it in command, and they’ll be home in a month.

Or they could have just said “Computer, make the person look like Dr. Gregory House”