Should the Daleks Be Exterminated?
Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside
The Daleks have been with the Doctor since the beginning. It was in Doctor Who's infancy, its second serial, that the First Doctor, William Hartnell, and his companions first encountered these aliens, so mutated that they must live within saltshaker-shaped metal carapaces for mobility and defense, on their war-torn and devastated home world of Skaro.
These creatures, who quickly became the Doctor's most popular nemisis, were at this time bent upon world domination by genocidally destroying their wartime enemies, the Thals. Since then, the Doctor has encountered the Daleks numerous times, while the Daleks have set their sights on dominating much more than just the planet Skaro. These confrontations include at least two occasions on which he must resolve the question of whether a genocidal species itself deserves to be wiped out. He reaches two different conclusions. The difference between the two highlights the warning the Daleks present to us.
In the Doctor's dilemma, we find out more about humanity, and our own great potential for evil, than about either Time Lords or Daleks. The Daleks show us what we're capable of becoming, when technology and social engineering aren't tempered with humility and compassion---to urge the destruction of the Daleks is to say that we might deserve the same fate.
Webb, Ed, and Mark Wardecker. "Should the Daleks Be Exterminated?" In Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside, edited by Courtland Lewis and Paula Smithka, 177-188. Chicago: Open Court, 2010.