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?
does she stay as an 8 year old?
how likely is it that they actually created the cosmos? perhaps they are just really douchy normal aliens who like to make new and gullible species make hard decisions.
Are you bringing these weird circumstances forward as part of you ethics class? Really? That's awesome, if so. You deserve extra credit..
I would reject their status. If they are that far advanced, they could have done horrible things far sooner if that was their inclinatioon. As they haven't, I'd deny their special status.. If they have no special status, I'd not let them take anyone. If I were forced to make a choice, I'd probably go myself, because I like telling people to fuck off, and wouldn't be happy with any other choice.. etc...
I think I'd say to these folks.
"Why don't you go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself."
So the options are:
a) End all existence and with it all suffering everywhere painlessly in the blink of an eye.
b) Given the option to end it, instead allow an existence already full of suffering to continue, adding the eternal torture of an 8 year-old girl.
To turn down the option of ending all existence would be heinous.
Existence as it is, is not all that bad, most people suffer but not so badly they want to end their lives.
In this hypothetical, though, existence is the plaything of sociopathic aliens, and that's not knowledge I could live with.
You know suffering will happen. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust. The victims of Albert Fish and Dahmer and Kuklinski and Garavito. 9/11 and the War on Terror. Bibi Aisha, and this: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2010/06/bullhead_city_... But you're offered the opportunity to prevent the next crusade and inquisition and genocide, and serial murder, and rape and instance of torture, the next Parkinson's diagnosis, the next toothache, the next Justin Bieber song, and all the instances of suffering that will inevitably occur at a constant thereafter, and you say "No, let this intrinsically, horribly flawed system remain. Because it's still worth it." What happens in between suffering is irrelevant. The capacity to suffer is what makes the mechanism of being flawed. Suffering's inherency within existence is what warrants existence's termination. It's not so much that it happens as it is that it was BUILT IN to happen.
Yeah, it would suck if sociopathic aliens were responsible for all the suffering in the world. It would make existence not worth experiencing. But the absence of sociopathic aliens (or god, for that matter) doesn't make inherent suffering any less heavily flawed a premise for an experience.
I don't think it's worth destroying all the good in the world just to get rid of the suffering though. You seem to be saying there is some amount suffering in the world therefore we'd be better off not existing.
And if it IS (as we believe it to be) an impersonal universe with this suffering in it, that means there is a chance to alleviate it (other than by this nihilistic approach of yours); if it's set up to be that way by evil aliens... then not so much.
Since existence is suffering (it's laced into the DNA of what we define as being), then you can't avoid it. It's not about how much there is. It's an inescapable part of the whole and it always will be. It's not like being born with a bad heart, where you can still live a pretty good life. Instead it's like being born with your brain in your chest and a foot in your lungs; no alleviation will change the fact that you were born to suffer.
I don't want to destroy the building because there's a flaw in its design. I want to destroy the building because it was designed to have a flaw, because the building and the flaw are inseparable, they are one; the building is a flaw.
I find moral value is telling the immoral to get bent. I think I'd take pride in that... I'd make every effort to take a poke at their eyes, rather than let a girl get tortured... If they are that powerful, and end stuff, well, thats on them.. If they are less powerful than they seemed, perhaps I can poke a hole in the armour by trying.
Feels to me like the movie Independence Day.
I'd rather fight, thanks..
If this is an analogy to god.. I still would rather fight that accept a morality I consider twisted...
You should play Final Fantasy. It's usually a long lead-up to punching god in the face.
How come it has to be a girl? Is it because people would feel more sorry for a female rather than a male thus making a different decision if the genders were different?
Assuming the aliens do not lie, give the girl. Not because it would benefit someone else, but it would benefit me. The better question would be could you live with yourself if you made the call to give the girl. Also you need to look at what condition are you in. Are you suffering in the world? Are you poor and begging for food all the time, or just plain bitter at your betters.
Of course, it doesn't HAVE to be a little girl. It just increases the sympathy factor. It would be the same question essentially if the victim were an old man or YOU,
This ethical mind problem simply challenges the old "the greatest good for the greatest number" thing by maximizing the problem to the nth degree.
Of course, it doesn't HAVE to be a little girl.
Of course it HAS to be. Allow me to tell you why
Because otherwise we're just talking about making some everyday schmuck suffer eternal pain. But "God" has been doing that for an eternity now, and nobody is challenging that. That's completely normal. The only reason a little girl was chosen as an example subject was to make sure that whoever says yes is guilty of sacrificing an innocent being to eternal pain. If you just said "some old man," even the most retarded theist would recognize the similarity between those masochist aliens who want to torture that man for eternity in space, and a "God" who wants to torture you for eternity in "Hell." Calling it a little girl gives it a vibe of "innocence." That's why it has to be a little innocent child, because on any other account many of us would easily say yes. Every theist for example would, without exception, since essentially they already are doing exactly that. They believe and want eternal torture in hell for everybody they dislike (sinners).
I can think of many people I'd gladly hand over. Hell, I'd do it for free, fuck 'em. You don't even need to bribe me with the universe.
edit: Of course I should be fair here and also note that if given this ultimatum, many theists would happily sacrifice their little daughters too. Since they operate on canine logic, which is basically just a world of reward and punishment. I bet my fucking ass that thousands of Muslims would line up to sell their daughters to those aliens into a forced marriage. (Otherwise the torture would be haram)