Analysis of Episode (The Measure of a Man)
The best episodes of Star Trek are those that not only conform to the viewers’ expectations about favorite characters but also contribute to deeper understanding of their behavioral and mental characteristics. “The Measure of a Man,” a second season Next Generation episode, captured the fundamental nature of the android Data and raised the question whether Data’s rights are equivalent to those of human species. Maddox wants to study and examine the structure of Data, assuming that performing experiments is appropriate since he is a thing rather than a person insistently referring to Data as “it”. Picard successfully defends Data by analyzing his feelings, emotions, and awareness, his ability to remember deceased friends, and other most “human” qualities. Picard gives the strong argument that Data who is not biological human being is no more property and deserves the same rights to be and express his individuality.
“The Measure of a Man” revolves around greater moral good. Maddox wants to create additional androids to save human generation. The question to be decided is whether the android is a mere machine, property, which can thus be dismantled for a good cause, or individuality, with the right to refuse consent to such inhuman destiny. Maddox argues that “it” is simply a machine, but his defending adviser, Picard, claims that being a machine is not relevant to the question of Data’s individuality. To defend Data, Picard proposes three defining characteristics of personhood: intelligence, consciousness and self-awareness. The decision of the trial is that the fact that the android Data is not a human being in terms of biology, that he is a mechanically operated being, does not mean that he has no rights to decide and live. Data meets the above-mentioned defining characteristics of personhood and have thus the right to be held in moral respect.
Data’s infinite tenderness, affection, and eager desire to know, together with his longing for the quality of being human, raise a question: Is it possible that, to some degree, Data is actually more human than the characters that are born with that high position? Data is one of episode’s most attractive characters. Why? Despite his obedience about falling short of the human, his human nature is so easy to see. Data’s extraordinary humanness is demonstrated by his expressive face, above all his clever answers and his sense of decency when Maddox bursts into Data’s quarters uninvited, loyalty, patience, and friendship.
“The Measure of a Man” is about cherishing diversity. The episode defines humanity not by static biological essences but by a constant quest for self-transcendence. When Picard demands that Maddox demonstrate the validity of fact that he, the captain of the Enterprise, is a conscious human being, it is the act of seeking and questioning, the assertion of humanity, and the refusal to be bound by biology or custom. Characters realize that the ultimate and definitive feature of humanity is its stimulus to learn, to discover, and to develop in understanding. Humanity in this regard is a process. And this is why, whether Data recognizes it or not, the characters understand that the android is far more human than they believed with Maddox finally calling Data a “he” rather than an “it”.