It's impossible, however, to imagine [The Federation] as less Western.
Jennifer Porter and Darcee McLaren wrote that McCoy is an "unintentional" example of how "irrational prejudices and fixations, wishful thinking and emotional reasoning, denial and repression, and unresolved neurotic disturbances" compromise "scientific rationality" in Star Trek.
In "The Measure of a Man," Bruce Maddox, trying to argue that he should be allowed to dismantle Data against his will, asks whether, if the computer of the Enterprise were to refuse an upgrade, the court now discussing Data's case would allow it to do so. He means this as a rhetorical question, which of course it is, but not in the way he thinks. If the computer of the Enterprise possessed the self-awareness and will to understand the meaning of an upgrade and refuse it, its wishes would have to be respected. That neither Maddox, nor Picard, nor the judge recognize this simple truth is because they are hung up on hardware rather than software...
A more important reason for the show's resistance to the notion of artificial sentience, however, is that the purpose of Data is not to explore the possibility of different forms of sentience, but to hold up a mirror to humanity, and a rather flattering one at that.
As Odo is once told, "What higher flattery is there? 'I, who can be anything, choose to be like you.'
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