Professional Ethics in Star Trek: Into Darkness

From Alec:

Star Trek into Darkness delves briefly into the topic of professional ethics. In the opening scene, the crew of the Starship Enterprise attempts to stop a volcano on a foreign planet from erupting, and in the process, prevent the planet’s indigenous species from being destroyed.

And while the crew of the Enterprise do not follow a Software Engineering Code of Ethics like the one presented in the textbook, they do follow the “Prime Directive”:

“No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations.” [1]

The Prime Directive aims to ensure that the Starfleet’s advanced technology does not influence the culture of underdeveloped species. Kirk, attempting to rescue Spock from the volcano, exposes the entirety of the Starship enterprise to the planet’s native species. In the process, he disobeys the Prime Directive.

After failing to accurately log the incident, Spock reports Kirk’s actions to the head of Starfleet, Alexander Marcus. As a result of Spock’s “whistleblowing”, Kirk is momentarily removed from his position as captain of the Enterprise.


Roddenberry, Gene, and Gene L. Coon. “Bread and Circuses.” Star Trek: The Original Series. Dir. Ralph Senensky. NBC. 15 Mar. 1968. Television.

Featured Image directly from movie