Philosophical questions on television

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Philosophical questions on television

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:35 pm

I have been watching old episodes of Doctor Who today. Shocker, I know. Anyway, I was watching "The Fires of Pompeii" with the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble. In it, The Doctor takes Donna to Pompeii on volcano day. Donna more or less accuses the Doctor of murder, because he doesn't want to tell anyone that the volcano is going to erupt. So, what do you think? Does Donna have a point? Or would saving those people be unethical because of the possibility of destroying Donna's own time?

To refresh everyone's memory, here is the episode in question:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3993658238927445648#


So what do you think?

What ethical questions have you seen offered by your favorite shows?
Share them here and we can all offer our own opinions. Very Happy

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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:41 pm

In the first place, would any of the citizens of Pompeii have believed him? I highly doubt it.

Consider how you'd react (you-generic) if some nerdy-looking guy wearing a bowtie (still don't like Matt Smith much) showed up in your neighborhood insisting that your entire city would be destroyed in less than 24 hours by <insert monumental catastrophe here>. Although I must admit, I'd be too busy drooling to hear anything that David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, was saying. But, anyway...anyone saying such a thing would be regarded as a nutjob.

That episode reminded me of Jack Finney's books about an Army time travel project in which the hero succeeds in traveling back into latter 19th century New York City and ultimately decides to remain there--Time And Again, From Time To Time. Both books get into the ethics and ramifications of attempting to change the course of history by going back in time and trying to alter historical events. Fascinating reading if you like this sort of thing.

No human has the capacity to predict what the outcome might be years hence of attempting to alter history if we could.
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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:08 pm

At the moment, honestly I am a Peter Davison girl.



Been working my way through the whole show, starting with William Hartnell, and I am in the Peter Davison years at the moment. Soon I'll probably be calling myself a Colin Baker girl.

I doubt I would have been rewatching these if BBC America hadn't done a marathon. They cut the episodes funny though, so I am not enjoying this as much as I did the first time through.

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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:36 pm

In some ways, I think a more interesting question might be, "If you thought an action you could take would prevent a catastrophic historical event, would you try it?"

That wouldn't involve trying to persuade people that you knew what you were talking about. You'd be acting directly to prevent the event altogether or reduce its impact.

Which ultimately is what Finney's second book hinges upon. The hero and a woman whom he learns is another of the Army time travelers decide to try preventing a major disaster. There's an intriguing twist to what occurs...but no spoilers; you'll have to read the book(s) which I highly recommend. Finney was a talented fantasy writer best known for Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by John T Mainer on Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:31 pm

The Timelords observed but did not interfere. Then they got roadkilled by the Dalek that just killed everything they met. The only Timelord to survive was the one who wouldn't leave well enough alone, and who did frequently mess with the timelines.

In a Dresden Files book, the hero was about to be eaten by a ghoul when a crimelord and his Valkyrie bodyguard happened by. Marcone ordered his Valkyrie to save Dresden, she demured stating it was his fate to die there in that ally. My response to your question is the same one Marcone gave his Valkyrie bodyguard:
What is the use in having free will if you don't use it?
.

The Doctor and Donna saved some people. History survived, the broad tapestry of history still recalls the eruption and thousands of lives lost. If you can save worthy people and do not, you have to admit you went there just for the pleasure of watching them die horribly.

Like James T Kirk or all 11 Doctors; do the right thing, and let the timeline take care of itself.

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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by tmarie64 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:38 pm

But, what if you save the guy who helps Hitler win the war?
It's not your place to screw with history.

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Re: Philosophical questions on television

Post by John T Mainer on Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:36 am

tmarie64 wrote:But, what if you save the guy who helps Hitler win the war?
It's not your place to screw with history.

Get real, I have the power right now to save someone who will turn out to be the next Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot. Hind sight is 20-20 and utter BS. I have the power to save a guy who makes the coup to topple Hitler and sue for peace actually work, or the guy who would pull off the plot to stop the rise of Stalin. Equally likely, also rubbish for reasons. I could save somebody so their children didn't get raised by a mother forced to whore herself out to abusers just to keep them alive. I could save a family that would be locked in steerage on the Titanic, or blazing with the Hindenburg in the burning sky; those are real lives that I have just as much requirement to save if I stood ten thousand years in the past as I would if I saw you about to be killed before me tomorrow.

Shall I stand back and watch you die? Crouch over your body as you gag on the blood bubbling up from your lungs and whisper that I'm sorry, there is a chance you might have children that did bad things, or it was your fate to die, and I just wanted to come watch?

I have killed people, I have saved people. I am utterly confident with making that call. If the gods didn't want me to make it, they shouldn't have left a warrior upon the field. I don't play god, I am not playing. I am a man, and I set my will against the entire universe, and if it requires I overturn the fate of the galaxy to save the life before me, fate can kiss my rosy red rectum. If the gods wish to stop me, I'm one bullet away from their waiting room. Until then, my call.

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