So, a bunch of aliens come along and tell us this:
We are beings from another dimension. In case you're wondering, we are the ones who created the comos in which you live. We can destroy it instantly or let it continue on as is. Your choice."
We ask, "What, then, is the choice?"
"Just give us an 8 year old girl who we'll make immortal and we'll give you back your cosmos."
"What will you do with her? Whatever we want. Primarily, we enjoy torture. We'll torture her till the end of time. If you won't do that, we'll bring everything you know to an abrupt end. What is your choice?"
How would you analyze this? The greatest good for the greatest number or what?
To start, you philosophy lecturer was a nut case :)
This would be a moral dilemma. Is it acceptable for one person to be tortured eternally for the benefit of many or so we allow the aliens to call their bluff and destroy all we know.
I tend to agree.
There's a similar vein of contrived scenarios, for example you are in a nazi death camp; and they put you in a bulldozer, and order you to drive over other inmates of the camp; if you don't they will shoot you and drive the bulldozer over them anyway; correct response is "fuck you, asshole." Hopefully you can get the whole suggestion out before the bullet scrambles your brains.
I'd hit the gas peddle hard.
Independence Day! Where's Will Smith when we need him?
Haha, he's working for the other guys, now?
They could perhaps give a minor demonstration of their power. Making the Moon rotate relative to the Earth, perhaps. The problem is, they can't do anything at a great distance because of the time it would take for the demonstration to be perceived here.
We'd have to make her legendary; a martyr. Like, Jesus.
Perhaps, but a lot of detail in this plot still needs to be filled in, or invented. Call me skeptical on the premise, even if it can be compared or applicable to real life in some ways. Humanity's been through a lot worse than this in reality, and maybe we can even beat those damned aliens someday, and save the multiverse as a whole.
No, wait... what if we also knew that this 8 yo girl would become a future Hitler, unless we intervened? The author of this fiction can take it in any direction he wants to. Perhaps she's even related to the main character because of weird fate or The Force, like in a Star Wars drama sub-plot?
If they can make a cosmos they can make their own 8-year old girls to torture. And if they are so powerful they can just take as many as they'd like. Why would they have to ask? And if they CAN destroy the cosmos all they do is destroy their supply of children. Overall I'd just call their bluff and call it the bullshit it is. :)
True. Perhaps the aliens are just trying to test our faith, or maybe they're lying and will actually destroy the universe if we choose to give up the girl. And who gets to decide for us, anyway? Bush? Putin? Palin? Westboro Babtist Church?