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Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast

Meta Treks is a Trek.fm podcast dedicated to a deep examination of the philosophical ideas found in Star Trek. In each episode, Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison take you on a fascinating journey into the inner workings of Star Trek storytelling, deeper into subspace than you've ever traveled before.
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Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast
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Apr 6, 2020

Philosophical Themes in Star Trek: Picard, Season 1. 

The recently completed first season of Star Trek: Picard deals with an impressive amount of philosophical material in a mere ten episodes. In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes and concepts within the premier season of Star Trek: Picard. From Rios's broody existentialism to the metaphysics of android neurons, join Zachary and Mike as they practice absolute candor in their discussion of Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard.  

Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Season One of Star Trek: Picard (00:03:15)
Broody Existentialism and Broken Characters (00:08:50)
Picard's Identity and Sartre's First Principle of Existentialism (00:16:08)
Aristotelian Acorns and Human Potential (00:29:23)
Stoicism and Order Out of Chaos (00:34:14)
Starfleet Isn't Starfleet Anymore (00:43:43)
Mortality and the Meaning of Life (00:46:30)
The "New" Transporter Problem and Consciousness (00:54:26)
Consequentialist Ethics and the Death of Bruce Maddox (01:03:15)
Philosophy of Mind and Synthetic Picard (01:05:45)
Philosophical Disappointments in Star Trek: Picard, Season One (01:11:17)
Closing (01:25:12) 

Hosts
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison 

Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Nov 18, 2019

Enterprise Season 1 - Essential Trek Philosophy. 

Like the first season of any new television series, Season 1 of Enterprise struggled to find its footing, especially coming out of the the successful run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager throughout the 1990s. And while Season 1 of Enterprise had important overarching themes, such as human technological progress, showing the Star Trek universe to be a possible future for us in the emerging 21st century, getting back to Star Trek's roots as a "wagon train to the stars," and building unity through diversity, Season 1 of Enterprise had several philosophically important episodes as well. In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss the philosophical themes and compare their choices for Essential Trek Philosophy from Season 1 of Star Trek: Enterprise.  

Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts about Enterprise Season One (00:04:07)
Understanding the Larger Themes of Enterprise Season One (00:13:28)
Star Trek Post September 11th (00:23:52)
Terra Nova (00:27:02)
Dear Doctor (00:34:44)
The Andorian Incident (00:44:23)
Shuttlepod One (00:53:41)
Breaking the Ice (01:00:17)
Detained (01:09:42)
Honorable Mention: Fusion (01:14:03)
Final Thoughts on the History of Philosophy and Enterprise (01:14:50)
Recap of Essential Trek Philosophy (01:17:51)
Closing (01:18:38) 

Hosts
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling 

Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager)

Oct 29, 2019

Death Wish.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche held that Western philosophers from Socrates onward have had a gigantic death wish in the form of philosophical escapism and denial of our nature as finite, embodied beings with our own uniquely individual perspectives, drives, and desires. Philosophers in the Q Continuum likewise seem to have a death wish, especially Quinn, the Q Continuum's greatest philosopher.

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical and existential themes in the second-season Voyager episode "Death Wish." Although "Death Wish" is usually interpreted as a moral dilemma about assisted suicide—itself a hot moral topic since the 1990s—Zachary and Mike argue instead that "Death Wish" is a subtler but highly-developed example of Nietzschean philosophy of embodiment, perspectivism, and metaphorical self-expression. 

Zachary and Mike also discuss the question of meaning as it relates to death, the finitude of human life, and the possibility of immortality—in the Q Continuum or in any form of the afterlife.

Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Voyager: "Death Wish" (00:03:32)
Philosophical Overview and Examples of Nietzschean Philosophy (00:06:43)
Quinn: Genius or Madman? (00:16:39)
The Meaningfulness of Life (00:26:16)
The Problem with Perfect Being Theology and the Death of God (00:42:04)
Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus (00:43:18)
Existentialism and the Subjectivity of Fulfillment in Life (00:48:31)
Marcus Aurelius and the Question of Legacy (00:55:15)
How the Q Continuum is Depicted in Death Wish (00:58:49)
Comparing and Contrasting How Star Trek Depicts the Q Continuum (01:08:25)
Is All of Star Trek Escapist? (01:11:38)
A Few Final Questions About "Death Wish" (01:21:17)
Closing (01:25:56)
 
Hosts
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison
 
Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mar Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jun 4, 2019

Utopianism in Star Trek.  

The Star Trek universe is sometimes claimed to be a utopia. From technological progress to an enlightened view of human nature and equal opportunity, the vision of the future depicted in Star Trek is often touted by fans as the best possible future for humankind. An often-overlooked aspect of utopianism, however, is that "utopia" literally means "no place," calling into question the plausibility of such an optimistic future. 

From intragalactic wars to power-hungry admirals to secret government organizations, the struggles of the 23rd and 24th centuries are all very familiar to us here in the 21st century, potentially undermining the very notion of human progress for which Star Trek is so famous. With the overall darker tone of Star Trek: Discovery and, to a lesser extent, Star Trek: Enterprise before that, it is reasonable to ask whether fans themselves, when pressed, really do still believe in the Star Trek vision of the future. 

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss utopianism in the Star Trek universe, whether Star Trek should really be considered a utopia after all, the dark sides of "perfect" societies, and the importance of having an idealistic vision of future human society—a modern-day take on a futuristic Plato's Republic—whether or not that ideal future is possible to achieve.  


Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Utopianism in the Star Trek Universe (00:01:55)
DS9 and Criticisms of Federation Utopia (00:06:33)
What Ways is the Society of the 24th Century Utopian? (00:12:50)
The Role of Human Improvement in a Utopian Society (00:19:40)
Non-Utopian Aspects of Society in Star Trek (00:21:48)
Do Fans Believe in the Utopian Message of Star Trek? (00:33:50)
Plato's Republic and the Perfect Society (00:42:23)
Counter Culture Moving Humanity Forward (00:50:11)
Kirk: Destroyer of Utopias vs. Picard: Preserver of Utopias (00:57:50)
Final Thoughts (01:06:07)
Closing (01:09:34) 

Hosts
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling 

Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

May 6, 2019

Alternate Universes and Modal Realism. 

The Star Trek franchise is full of alternate universes, from different quantum realities (TNG: "Parallels") and the alternate reality seen in the Kelvin timeline (Star Trek, 2009) to the Mirror Universe seen in the Original Series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Discovery. In Star Trek, these alternate universes are just as real as the actual universe, a philosophical position known as "modal realism." In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison debate modal realism, the reality of alternate universes, through the lens of the Star Trek universe and whether we should consider alternate realities or "possible worlds" to be as metaphysically real as our own actual universe.  


Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thought on Modal Realism (00:04:04)
What Difference Does It Make? (00:08:45)
David Lewis and Counterfactuals (00:12:36)
Modal Concepts (00:17:43)
The Distinction and Contrast of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek (00:20:46)
Quantum Branching (00:29:50)
Gottfried Leibniz and "Best of All Possible Worlds" (00:34:28)
Is Modal Realism a Scientific Question or a Philosophical Question? (00:39:00)
The Space Between the Spaces (00:43:26)
Different Types of Possible Universes (00:45:20)
Criticisms of Modal Realism (00:57:13)
Diverging Universes (01:00:10)
Closing (01:05:03) 

Hosts
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison 

Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jan 21, 2019

Discovery Season 1 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

We in the 21st century do not live in an age of mythology as the ancient Greeks and Romans did, with epic heroes and narratives to provide context and meaning for our lives. Yet we hunger and thirst for meaning, as humans have done since the dawn of human history and consciousness. To its fans, Star Trek has become a form of modern mythology, with its own ethos, purposefulness, and meaningfulness, and with its own epic heroes—whether Captain Kirk in the Original Series or Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery—whose journeys, struggles, and overcoming of obstacles are reminiscent of the existential journeys of classical epic heroes, from Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey to Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss the philosophical themes in season one of Star Trek: Discovery, from speculative and theoretical issues in contemporary physics and biology—emergence, panspermia, and panpsychism—to existential questions of self-identity and self-definition—including the rise, fall, and redemption of Michael Burnham, the Federation's struggle to maintain its ideals during wartime and in the face of imminent threats to its very existence, and the emerging unification and national identity of the Klingon Empire.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts About Star Trek: Discovery - Season One (00:2:31) 
Essential Trek Philosophy Essentials (00:17:19) 
Context is for Kings (00:19:06) 
The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars (00:27:07) 
The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry / Choose Your Pain (00:37:50) 
Lethe (00:42:43) 
Will You Take My Hand? (00:50:54) 
Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad (00:59:03) 
Final Thoughts (01:04:58) 
Recap (01:12:48) 
Closing (01:13:55)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jan 14, 2019

Equality and Equal Rights.  

Equality in the United Federation of Planets is often taken for granted, that alien life forms are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as humans. But to which beings does this equality extend? Humanoids? Only sentient life forms? Intelligent androids? Whales? Nanites? And equality in what sense? Political equality? Moral equality? Equality under the law? Equality of opportunity?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophy of equality in the Star Trek universe, from issues of accessibility for disabled Starfleet officers such as Commander LaForge (TNG) and Ensign Melora (DS9: "Melora"), to the rights of non-humanoid life forms, whether intelligent whales here on Earth (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) or non-human aliens such as the Horta (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark") and the Sheliak (TNG: "The Ensigns of Command").  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Equality - Making a Distinction (00:03:16) 
Political Equality Over Time in Star Trek (00:04:49) 
Moral Equality in the Federation (00:11:22) 
Moral Equality and Future Potential (00:20:25) 
Equality Under the Law, Equal Rights, and the Ethics of Care (00:28:07) 
Equality and Exploitation (00:33:48) 
Deep Space Nine and Equal Opportunity (00:36:34) 
Starfleet and the Federation: Is the Captains Life More Valuable? (00:46:42) 
Our Attitude Toward Other Cultures in the 24th Century (00:55:34) 
Closing (00:58:52)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Oct 8, 2018

The Q Continuum.  

From the The Original Series onward, Star Trek has had a preoccupation with false gods, culminating in the introduction of Q and the Q Continuum in Star Trek: The Next Generation. But although members of the Q Continuum have many of the properties usually ascribed to deities—such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and so on—do they posses these qualities to sufficient degree to be considered genuine deities of the Star Trek universe?  


In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling give a philosophical analysis of the Q Continuum and the deity-like attributes of the Q. From paradoxes of omnipotence, such as the Q being powerful enough to create a prison another Q cannot break out of, to the many things the Q don't seem to know despite their supposed omniscience, Mike and Zachary debate, and perhaps debunk, the status of the Q as deities.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Should We Consider the Q to be Deities? (00:02:42) 
Q and the Q Continuum (00:07:34) 
The Tension Between Transcendence and Immanence (00:14:44) 
Contrasting The Q Continuum with the DS9 Prophets (00:20:08) 
Are the Q Omnipresent? (00:23:18) 
Are the Q Omnipotent? (00:27:32) 
Are the Q Omniscient? (00:35:00) 
Attributes Not Found Among The Q (00:43:34) 
Should The Q Have a Moral Obligation? (00:47:48) 
Star Trek and False Gods (00:53:23) 
The Visualizations of the Q Continuum (01:03:54) 
Closing (01:11:07)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Sep 24, 2018

Philosophical Themes in "The Cage."  

In the opening scenes of "The Cage," the unaired pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, Captain Christopher Pike is having an existential crisis, feeling the weight of his responsibility as a starship captain, being responsible for the lives of the people under his command, and longing for a different kind of life (being home on Earth with a picnic lunch and horseback riding every day, or perhaps becoming an Orion trader). When Captain Pike is imprisoned by the Talosians and given the chance to have his every wish granted as an illusion, Captain Pike is forced to grapple with what he really wants in life and with the true nature of human happiness.  


In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes in "The Cage," from the existential angst of free will, making choices, and the burdens of responsibility, to the importance of human freedom and free will, risks and rewards, and of looking to the future and setting a course for the next adventure.  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Criticisms and Observations of The Cage (00:03:34) 
Alien Commentary (00:08:23) 
Zoo: Humans as a Lower Life form (00:14:04) 
Existential Tiredness (00:17:40) 
A Galaxy of Illusions to Choose From (00:30:18) 
The Pleasure Machine (00:35:43) 
The Worth of a Man's Soul (00:38:37) 
The New Adam and Eve (00:45:11) 
A Faustian Deal with the Devil (00:50:41) 
Free Will and the Human Condition (00:55:16) 
Aftermath of Talosian War (01:00:37) 
Final Thoughts About The Cage (01:07:06) 
Closing (01:14:09)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jul 2, 2018

The Original Series Season 1 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

The entire Star Trek franchise, with over 700 television episodes and 13 feature films (to date), owes its existence to the strength of season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series. If season 1 hadn't been as strong as it was, we wouldn't have the Star Trek franchise we know and love today. Season 1 of The Original Series isn't just strong dramatically, however. It is also strong philosophically, episode by episode exploring abstract ideas, future human potential, and the human condition.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling go back to where it all began in a discussion of their top picks for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series. Join Mike and Zachary as they discuss the four dominant philosophical themes in the premiere season of Star Trek: ethical and moral dilemmas, transhumanism and future human potential, the internal struggle of conflicting human natures, and the ethics of war.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts on TOS Season One (00:01:58) 
The Four Main Philosophical Themes (00:10:26) 
Moral Choices and Ethical Conundrums (00:14:54) 
The City on the Edge of Forever (00:15:07) 
Transhumanism (00:21:13) 
The Cage (00:22:24) 
Arena (00:26:28) 
Errand of Mercy (00:28:11) 
The Return of the Archons (00:33:39) 
Space Seed (00:37:47) 
Where No Man Has Gone Before (00:39:52) 
Charlie X/The Squire of Gothos (00:40:30) 
What Are Little Girls Made Of? (00:42:32) 
Miri (00:46:13) 
Dagger of the Mind (0047:31) 
Exploration of Human Nature (00:50:49) 
The Enemy Within (00:52:06) 
The Conscience of the King (00:56:21) 
The Alternative Factor (00:58:03) 
Ethics of War (01:03:48) 
Balance of Terror (01:04:33) 
A Taste of Armageddon (01:06:14) 
This Side of Paradise (01:08:35) 
Devil in the Dark (01:11:38) 
Recap and Final Thoughts (01:15:08) 
Closing (01:18:31)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

May 28, 2018

Philosophical Themes in "These Are the Voyages."  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison explore the philosophical themes in the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages." While "These Are the Voyages" remains controversial with fans of Enterprise because of the focus on Commander Riker and Counselor Troi aboard the Enterprise-D, "These Are the Voyages" had the weighty task of book-ending 18 continuous years of Star Trek on television, from 1987 with the premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation to 2005 with the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise. From finding meaning and answers to life's biggest questions in historical events, to ethical conundrums involving conflicting duties, Zachary and Mike give a philosophical valentine to the underappreciated "These Are the Voyages."  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Plot Problems and Interesting Philosophy (00:08:25) 
The Hermeneutical Question (00:15:25) 
Recreating the Past and Finding Meaning (00:23:04) 
Commander Riker and Conflicting Duties (00:35:40) 
Kant, Truth, and Consequences (00:41:49) 
Open Source Information vs. Closed Access (00:53:54) 
Perspective Through Interpersonal Stories (01:02:21) 
The Value and Weight of History (01:11:17) 
Closing (01:18:45) 

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Apr 23, 2018

Good vs. Evil in Star Trek.  

We generally understand the meaning of "good," whether in the sense of following the rules or in the sense of minimizing the suffering of others. But, paradoxically, we understand the nature of "evil" to a far lesser degree. While Star Trek tends to shy away from making strict moral judgments, opting instead to humanize its villains by explaining the psychological motivations for their actions or the roots of those actions in past experiences, Star Trek does, however, explore the nature of evil in characters such as Armus from "Skin of Evil" (Star Trek: The Next Generation), the Borg Queen (Star Trek: First Contact; Star Trek: Voyager), and the Pah-Wraiths (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss "good versus evil" in the Star Trek universe. Are these supposedly evil characters are truly evil, or are they off the hook because of their backgrounds and their respective sob stories?  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts on Good and Evil (00:03:17) 
Pah-Wraiths and Evil in DS9 (00:08:43) 
False Dichotomies and Defining Characteristics of Evil (00:11:25) 
Enter Armus from "Skin of Evil" (00:18:09) 
Comparing Evil in Star Trek to Evil in Theology (00:28:52) 
The Borg as a Candidate for Evil (00:38:00) 
The Borg Queen vs. The Pah-Wraiths (00:50:39) 
Nietzsche and the Judaeo Concept of Evil (00:56:41) 
Khaaaan! (01:05:51) 
Final Thoughts (01:13:52) 
Closing (01:27:02)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Apr 10, 2018

The Visitor.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes in the fourth-season Deep Space Nine episode, "The Visitor." Inspired by Jake Sisko's passion for writing, Zachary and Mike discuss the relationship between creative writing, lived experience, and what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger called "Being-in-the-World." Zachary and Mike also discuss "The Visitor" as a phenomenological metaphor for various aspects of human experience, including interpersonal connection, parenthood, regret, aging, and the lifelong quest to rediscover one's true self.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts about DS9 "The Visitor" (00:02:46) 
Heidegger and "In-der-Weld-Sein" (00:03:44) 
Life Observed vs. Life Lived (00:10:39) 
Unresolved Moments in Time (00:18:29) 
Phenomenology of Human Experience (00:26:32) 
Metaphysical Personal Connection (00:30:16) 
Self-Sacrifice and Cutting the Cord (00:47:00) 
Experience and Change Over Time (00:51:43) 
The Old Defiant Crew Out of Mothballs (01:03:17) 
Final Thoughts (01:05:51) 
Closing (01:12:56)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 21, 2018

TNG Season 5 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling compare their top picks for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From transhumanism and a positive spin on genetic engineering in "The Masterpiece Society" to the philosophy of language and an exploration of non-referential language in "Darmok," season five contains some of the philosophically richest episodes in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mike and Zachary also discuss Kantian ethics versus consequentialism in "I, Borg" and medical ethics in the aptly named episode "Ethics," in addition to the unique explorations of the metaphysics of time and the ethics of time travel in "Cause and Effect" and "A Matter of Time."  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
The Masterpiece Society (00:06:15) 
Darmok (00:20:03) 
I, Borg (00:47:31) 
Cause and Effect (00:55:37) 
A Matter of Time (01:01:39) 
Conundrum (01:06:59) 
Ethics (01:10:33) 
Closing (01:20:43)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 12, 2018

The Conscience of the King.  

To what extent does a person remain morally responsible for his or her actions over time, even after many years or after changes in character and experience? Can people ever change who they fundamentally are inside, or do they merely become better actors playing different roles?  

In "The Conscience of the King" (Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1), Captain Kirk suspects the 23rd-Century Shakespearean actor Anton Karidian of actually being the (believed-deceased) former governor of Earth colony Tarsus IV, Kodos "The Executioner," notorious for having executed over 4,000 people. Is Karidian really Kodos after all? And if so, is Karidian now a different person, in a moral sense, than the person he used to be? Or is Kodos "The Executioner" still there just beneath the surface and under the guise of Karidian the actor?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes of moral responsibility and personal identity over time in "The Conscience of the King," including the inspired use of theater-acting and masks as metaphors for personal transformation, or perhaps the lack thereof.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts about "The Conscience of the King" (00:02:30) 
Morality and Identity Over Time (00:10:31) 
Radical Conversion, Paul the Apostle, and Identity (00:16:31) 
The Sins of the Father: Lenore Karidian (00:24:26) 
Caesar of the Stars (00:26:46) 
Kodos and Eugenics (00:32:18) 
Not Very Human (00:41:03) 
Truman on Trial (00:51:29) 
Guilt and Culpability (00:57:10) 
Riley and Revenge (01:00:25) 
Closing (01:14:29)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 5, 2018

Drone Warfare and "The Arsenal of Freedom."  

When the Enterprise is sent to the Lorenz Cluster in search of the missing U.S.S. Drake, the crew gets drawn into a life-and-death game of cat and mouse with the demonstration model of an ancient automated weapon system, including increasingly powerful and adaptive autonomous sentry probes. While the concept of automated drone warfare may have been closer to science and military fiction in the late 1980s during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the philosophical ethical issues related to automated warfare in "The Arsenal of Freedom" are even more relevant today.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss "The Arsenal of Freedom" (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1), from the commodification of war within the military industrial complex to the pros and cons of peace through superior firepower. Mike and Zachary also discuss the distinction between genuine artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts on "The Arsenal of Freedom" (00:02:44) 
Star Trek and Reagan-Era Warfare (00:09:14) 
Data as The Terminator (00:14:31) 
TNG and Virtues of Drone Warfare (00:20:03) 
Peace Through Superior Firepower (00:27:49) 
The Commodification of War (00:41:41) 
Is Technology Morally Neutral? (00:50:58) 
Algorithms vs. Artificial Intelligence (00:56:23) 
Failsafe Failures (01:07:34) 
Geordi and His First Command (01:16:03) 
Dr. Crusher, Medicine Woman (01:25:37) 
Closing (01:34:04)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Oct 30, 2017

Vulcan Katras and the Mind-Body Problem.  

Episode 6 of Star Trek: Discovery, "Lethe," explored and expanded upon the metaphysics of Vulcan katras beyond what had been seen in previous iterations of Star Trek. But what exactly is a Vulcan katra and what properties does it have? From transferring consciousness from one Vulcan to another, to enabling a form of disembodied immortality, katras play an important role in Vulcan mysticism and metaphysics.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison give a philosophical analysis of the metaphysics of Vulcan katras in relation to the mind-body problem. Is the katra a type of nonphysical substance, as Cartesian dualism would hold? Is the katra a biophysical or emergent property of the brain and its functioning? And is transferring one's katra, through a mind meld or otherwise, an actual transfer of consciousness to a new location, or is it more like backing up a copy of your hard drive to the cloud?  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
"Lethe" and Sciencing the Katra in Discovery (00:04:29) 
Naturalizing the Katra and Alternative Theories (00:10:59) 
Examples of Katric Transfers in Star Trek (00:15:52) 
Are Katras Necessarily Dualist? (00:20:24) 
Is the Katra Living Consciousness? (00:27:57) 
Emerging Consciousness from Katra and Body (00:36:58) 
Is a Katra Divisible Into Parts? (00:48:48) 
What Happens to the Disembodied Katra? (00:55:17) 
Vulcan Immortality and Gnostic Knowledge (01:01:25) 
Touch Telepathy vs. Mind Meld by Remote (01:12:34) 
Closing (01:19:29)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Oct 23, 2017

Deep Space Nine Season 5 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

When people think of ethics in Star Trek, they often think primarily of ethical dilemmas, such as balancing the greater good of one group of people with the greater good of another group of people, or juxtaposing the rights of particular individuals with the common good. But season 5 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine takes a different approach to its exploration of ethics, using dramatic situations to explore not merely ethical dilemmas, but also ethically praiseworthy or blameworthy character traits of various Starfleet and non-Starfleet characters.  


In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling compare their choices for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 5 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. From the virtuous character traits of loyalty and fortitude in "The Ascent" to the ethics of genetic engineering in "Dr. Bashir, I Presume?", season 5 of Deep Space Nineuses conflict with the Dominion, the Klingons, and the Maquis, to explore the ethical status of various character traits while under pressure, and in a state of political and military conflict.  


Chapters 
Intro and Initial Thoughts on DS9 Season 5 (00:01:20) 
Children of Time (00:09:26) 
...Nor the Battle to the Strong (00:14:27) 
Let He Who Is Without Sin (00:28:41) 
The Ascent (00:39:10) 
The Ship (00:44:29) 
The Begotten (00:53:41) 
Dr. Bashir, I Presume? (01:00:05) 
Honorable Mentions (01:16:38) 
Recap and Final Thoughts (01:21:18) 
Closing (01:24:50)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Oct 9, 2017

The Philosophy of Color in Star Trek.  

Star Trek: The Original Series is a colorful show, known for its striking set decorations and bold costuming, from the orange highlights on the Enterprise bridge to the primary colors of the Original Series uniforms, including the uniforms of the infamous Redshirts. But what exactly does it mean for a uniform to be red? Is redness a physical property of the uniform itself, or is redness an aspect of subjective mental experience for whomever observes the uniform? Can the uniform's color be reduced to its more basic physical properties or the basic properties of light itself (frequency, wavelength, and so on), or is color a fundamental part of reality, unable to be reduced to other physical properties? And does the property of "redness" exist as an abstract entity (similar to numbers or other abstract objects), or does color exist only in particular form within individual colorful objects like individual red uniforms?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophy of color in the Star Trek universe. From the physics of light to the physiology of color perception, and from concrete examples to the ontology of abstract entities, Zachary and Mike examine why physics and physiology struggle to give a fully adequate account of the existence and nature of color.

Chapters 
Intro (0001:20) 
Is There a Philosophical Problem? (00:02:47) 
Why Is the Red Shirt Red? (00:07:19) 
Color Physicalism and the "Mystique" of Color Perception (00:18:19) 
Abstract Entities (00:27:04) 
A Red Shirt By Any Other Name (00:32:33) 
The Inverted Spectrum Thought Experiment (00:35:18) 
Color as an Emergent Property (00:44:20) 
Color Primitivism (00:46:57) 
Color Qualia (00:50:53) 
Color Fictionalism (00:52:41) 
Final Thoughts (01:00:52) 
Closing (01:07:39)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Oct 2, 2017

Philosophical Themes in Star Trek: Discovery, Episodes 1 and 2.   

Every Star Trek television series is a mirror, reflecting and illuminating the moral dilemmas and the political issues of its time. The premier episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars," are no exception. While it is still too early to know yet what Star Trek: Discovery will eventually become, and the ongoing relevance it will have as current events unfold, it is possible, at least tentatively, to identify several philosophical and political themes. From the nature of leadership and political unity, to the gamesmanship of war in a state of mutual distrust, to race relations across political borders, Star Trek: Discovery boldly goes into the social and political unknown, providing 23rd-century commentary on our 21st-century world.  


In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling, fresh on the heels of the premier of Star Trek: Discovery, discuss their tentative interpretations of the philosophical and allegorical themes in "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars."  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts About Star Trek: Discovery (00:06:16) 
Analogous Ideas and Hermeneutical Interpretation (00:11:20) 
Comparing Klingons (00:16:22) 
Preemptive War and the Hobbesian State of Nature (00:20:13) 
Klingon Messianic Restorationist (00:30:56) 
Nationalism vs. Multiculturalism (00:40:10) 
Touchstones to TOS, ENT, and Kelvin Movies (00:50:49) 
Michael Burnham and the Traumatic Chain (00:58:56) 
Striking Balance Between Emotion and Logic (01:05:25) 
The Contrasting Ethics of Captains (01:12:59) 
Geopolitical Diversity (01:16:05) 
Final Thoughts (01:25:19) 
Closing (01:31:59) 

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Sep 25, 2017

Property Ownership in Star Trek.  

There may be no money in the 24th century, at least not as we know it. And humankind may no longer be driven by the acquisition of material wealth. But what exactly do you do if you want to own one of those extra-special limited-vintage bottles of Chateau Picard?


In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophy and economics of property ownership in Star Trek. What role does property ownership play in a post-scarcity, post-monetary society? And is individual property ownership at odds with the values of 24th-century Federation society?  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:27) 
Initial Thoughts on the Concept of Property Ownership (00:2:18) 
The Tension Between the Post-Monetary Worldview in Star Trek and the Concept of Property Ownership (00:05:03) 
Sentimental Property in "The Measure of a Man" (00:12:22) 
Property Ownership in the History of Philosophy (00:17:13) 
Religion and the Economic Principle of Scarcity (00:23:54) 
24th Century Barter System (00:35:03) 
Three Interpretations of the Scarcity Problem in Star Trek (00:44:55) 
Property Ownership Disputes (00:52:06) 
Theft of Property in the Future (00:56:28) 
Self-Ownership and Self-Determination (01:03:19) 
Responsible Pet Owners in the 23rd Century (01:10:00) 
Ownership vs. Stewardship (01:14:36) 
Final Thoughts (01:18:41) 
Closing (01:22:28)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)  

Aug 14, 2017

Voyager Season 5 - Essential Trek Philosophy.

If you've ever had the urge to replicate yourself some curtains when faced with a late-night existential crisis, then the fifth-season opener of Star Trek: Voyager, "Night" is for you! In "Night" we see perhaps the best example of ennui (boredom) in all of Star Trek, including some guilt-laden soul searching from Captain Janeway.

But an existential crisis alone does not a season of Star Trek make. And Voyager season 5 is also filled with various ethical dilemmas juxtaposing utilitarian concern for the greater good with respect for the rights of individuals.

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling compare their recommendations for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 5 of Star Trek: Voyager, from the rights and potential of a souped-up 29th century Borg in "Drone" to balancing the best of the past with the possibilities for the future in "11:59."

Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Voyager Season 5 (00:05:14)
Night (00:09:08)
Timeless (00:18:56)
Drone (00:29:44)
Thirty Days (00:35:48)
Nothing Human (00:50:21)
Think Tank (00:56:33)
Equinox Part 1 (01:06:47)
Latent Image (01:08:51)
11:59 (01:16:06)
Final Thoughts (01:23:41)
Closing (01:28:53)

Hosts
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling

Production
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer ) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jul 31, 2017
Star Trek Philosophy of Education.  

An advanced future civilization such as the United Federation of Planets would surely have an equally advanced educational system. After all, we are told in Star Trek: The Next Generation that 24th century schoolchildren learn calculus in grade school aboard the Enterprise! But other than an accelerated math curriculum, what are the defining characteristics of the educational system and the philosophy of education within in the Star Trek universe?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss 24th century philosophy of education. From Wesley Crusher's Starfleet Academy entrance exam and future educational technology, to issues of multiculturalism and pluralism in education aboard Deep Space Nine, Zachary and Mike go back to school for a refresher course on all things education in the Star Trek universe.  

Be sure to listen carefully! There will be a quiz afterward, proctored of course by Quark's alternate-timeline schoolteacher avatar from the Deep Space Nine episode "Children of Time"!  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Education Improves Over Time (00:05:32) 
The Role of Technology in Education (00:07:42) 
Starfleet Academy vs. Civilian Education (00:10:13) 
"Samaritan Snare" - Specialization vs. General Education (00:13:10) 
24th Century Life-Hacking - The Meaning of Life Won't Be on the Exam (00:17:10) 
Scrubbing Plasma Conduits - Work Ethic, Dirty Jobs, and Intrinsic/Extrinsic Rewards (00:21:27) 
Setting a High Bar and Taking Ownership (00:33:18) 
Educational Simulations and Learning by Doing - Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher (00:37:33) 
Competing Worldviews and Multicultural Education on Deep Space Nine (00:44:59) 
Star Trek EdTech (01:01:12) 
Like Magic - Educational and Technological Utopianism (01:12:08) 
24th Century Homeschooling - Educational Introverts and Extroverts (01:14:29) 
Final Thoughts (01:22:43) 
Closing (01:34:00)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)  
Jul 17, 2017
Narratives and Metanarratives in Star Trek.  

Throughout Western history, grand narratives, or metanarratives, have been used to define who we are and where we should be going as a people. These metanarratives have included things like the Enlightenment, the Scientific RevolutionDemocracyMarxismEmancipation, and many other competing metanarratives that have made up the tapestry of Western civilization.  

Star Trek, likewise, has its grand metanarratives, which tie together individual stories and narratives into a unified message about the future potential of humankind. These Star Trek metanarratives include things like technological progresspolitical unificationeliminating economic scarcity, and so on. But having seen the collapse of many of these grand narratives of Western civilization, or at least their dark underbellies, many people in today's postmodern times now take a skeptical view, or even a cynical one, about the plausibility of these idealistic grand metanarratives.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling, discuss the use of narratives and metanarratives in Star Trek, addressing the fundamental question of whether Star Trek's grand narratives will end up on the same ash heap of history as other discarded metanarratives of Western civilization, or whether the grand narratives of the Star Trek worldview have the staying power to persist into the 24th century and beyond.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Distinguishing Between "Narratives" and "Metanarratives" in Star Trek (00:05:08) 
Collapse of the Grand Narratives of the Western World (00:12:08) 
Star Trek Snake Oil (00:14:57) 
The Power of Oratory - Motivating Change with Metanarratives (00:24:47) 
TNG "The Neutral Zone" - Timeless Ideals vs. Contemporary Metanarratives (00:32:08) 
The Importance of Critical Skepticism (00:45:23) 
DS9 "The Storyteller" - Telling a Great Story (00:50:58) 
TNG "The Inner Light" - Appeals to the Heart (00:57:28) 
Cultural Apathy - Working for the Weekend vs. Working for the Future (01:03:15) 
Non-Reductive Perspectivism - Embracing Grand Narratives (01:08:25) 
Hero of Your Own Story - The Center Seat vs. Scrubbing Plasma Conduits (01:13:24) 
Final Thoughts (01:20:12) 
Closing (01:29:53)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)  
Jul 3, 2017
Pen Pals.  

When Lt. Commander Data contacts a girl named "Sarjenka" from a pre-warp civilization in distress on his 24th-century space ham radio, it leads to a super-secret philosophical discussion about the nature of the Prime Directive in Captain Picard's quarters. Should the Prime Directive be interpreted strictly or loosely? How should Starfleet officers weigh the high-stakes, life-or-death consequences for an entire civilization against their responsibility and oath to uphold the Prime Directive? Would interpreting Sarjenka's "whisper in the dark" as a formal request for help count as "sophistry," as Captain Picard claims? And what role do friendships and emotions play in determining moral obligation in light of the Prime Directive?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the second-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Pen Pals." But this is episode 73 of Meta Treks, and the number 73 has a very special meaning in Morse code in ham radio circles: "Best regards." Because Zachary himself has been a third-generation licensed ham radio operator since he was just a tad older than Sarjenka, this episode of Meta Treks debates the role and responsibilities of radio communication in the Star Trek universe, whether that newfangled subspace radio or good old-fashioned RF. Zachary and Mike also discuss Wesley Crusher's first command and what it means to have "command presence."  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:35) 
Initial Thought on Pen Pals from TNG Season 2 (00:03:29) 
The Ham Radio Connection (00:07:50) 
Unusually High Stakes and the Philosophical Debate (00:17:14) 
"Obligations that go beyond duty..." (00:22:05) 
The Individual Positions of the Crew in the Debate (00:25:43) 
Worf Takes the Kantian Position (00:27:01) 
Picard's Argument for Causal Determinism (0029:59) 
Line Drawing Problem (00:35:28) 
Making the Decision: Command Presence and the Nature of Command (00:42:10) 
Principles vs. Consequences (00:49:07) 
Wesley's First Command (00:50:57) 
Riker's Advice: What Would Picard Do (00:59:17) 
Regulation and Communication (01:00:29) 
Subspace QSL Cards and Q Codes (01:03:31) 
Closing (01:07:33)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
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