First of all let me say that I cannot believe I am doing an analysis of the Star Trek prime directive. The prime directive states:
“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”
The associated prohibitions are given below (according to Jbrenner)
1. Providing knowledge of technologies or science
2. Taking actions to generally affect a society's overall development
3. Taking actions which support one faction within a society over another
4. Helping a society escape the negative consequences of its own actions
5. Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction.
6. Subverting or avoiding the application of a society's laws
7. Interfering in the internal affairs of a society
What would Ayn Rand say about the prime directive. I bet her first question would be what is a sentient species? According to dictionary “sentient” means “able to perceive or feel things.” Well cows, cats, dogs, and many other species can perceive or feel things, in fact much simpler organisms would fit this definition. Based on this definition Rand would state that only rational beings have rights. Rand defined the hierarchy of knowledge integration as sensation, precepts, and conceptual. She explains it perceptual in this example.
“An animal is guided, not merely by immediate sensations, but by percepts. Its actions are not single, discrete responses to single, separate stimuli, but are directed by an integrated awareness of the perceptual reality confronting it. It is able to grasp the perceptual concretes immediately present and it is able to form automatic perceptual associations, but it can go no further.”
My guess is that Rand would then ask what is “normal cultural evolution.” Is it normal cultural evolution to allow Rachel Carson to convince countries to ban DDT and cause 100 million deaths? Is it normal cultural evolution to allow Mao to institute the cultural revolution that will starve over 30 million people to death? There is no such thing a normal cultural evolution. But it rings of Marxist ideas of a scientific progression of society.
Then Rand would ask why normal cultural evolution is considered sacred. According to the dictionary sacred means “connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.” Rand would reject anything based on an appeal to a deity. The proof of the first sentence of the prime directive rests on an appeal to faith, not reason.
It is clear the Prime Directive is based on faith, not reason and is immoral from the first sentence. I will not take on the rest of the directive but I will look at the prohibitions. The first prohibition is “Providing knowledge of technologies or science.” Given that directive was directed to species that are “able to perceive or feel things” this is almost meaningless. Most species that able to perceive are not able to understand or take advantage of knowledge.
But what about rational beings? Why would you not provide knowledge of technologies or science? Does this mean we cannot teach our kids science and technology? That would clearly be immoral. Your objection might be that they are within our culture, but what about African cultures? Should we have not introduced DDT, or steam engines, or the Internet? While we have no obligation to introduce these sciences and technologies, to purposely prohibit them would be immoral.
All the prohibitions and the prime directives are based group think (and written by Hollywood TV writers!). The word society is mentioned nine times in the Prime Directive and in the prohibitions. Individual is not mentioned once. Societies are based on a collection of people and only have rights based on the rights of the individuals, who make up the society, but none separate from them.
Start Trek’s Prime Directive is an inherently Socialist Ideal and Evil.