Ethics of Star Trek



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ISBN-10: 0060933267
ISBN-13: 978-0060933265
Paperback Page Count: 384
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At first glance, this blend of philosophical ethics and Star Trek may look like an outlandish Trekkie fantasy. In fact, it is a fascinating use of popular culture to engender sophisticated discussions of ethical theory. Obviously, The Ethics of Star Trek will be most interesting and accessible to fans of the show. But one need not be a guru in the cabala of Star Trek to appreciate and understand the witty instruction in ethics found in this volume. Authors Judith Barad–who is a professor of philosophy at Indiana State University–and Ed Robertson have crafted a charming introduction to ethical theory. As the authors point out, “One reason why Star Trek has endured from one generation to the next is that most of the stories themselves are indeed moral fables.” And moral fables, particularly popular ones, are an excellent springboard into the deeper waters of philosophical ethics. The book covers much more ground than is typically traveled in Ethics 101 courses. In the first of five sections, Barad and Robertson deal with the importance of religion and culture, as well as logic, in ethical reasoning. They go on to successively tackle virtue ethics, hedonism, Stoicism, Christian ethics, social contract theory, duty ethics, utilitarianism, and existential ethics–all in reference to the moral dilemmas enlivened by Star Trek. And while the topics’ treatments are somewhat cursory, they are written with a conversational prose that beckons the reader to further study. Perhaps Jean-Luc Picard puts it best in the book’s epigraph, “There is no greater challenge than the study of philosophy.”