Saturday, 14 July 2018
"What you'll find worst, though, is the risk of having to sell out your own comrades, name them to the enemy, so he will keep confidence in you. Are you brave enough to sacrifice twenty lives for a world?"
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters Of The Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 301-149 AT XIII, pp. 249-250.
I would not. And there would be very few, if any, occasions when the choice was as stark and simplistic as twenty lives for a world. See here. I remember that, if an Asimov robot was forced to choose between killing ten people and killing twenty, then it would kill the ten, then go insane, having broken First Law.
IN SM Stirling's Black Chamber, an American agent infiltrating a German spy ring kills French agents trying to kidnap a German scientist. Why not kill the German spy that she is with and help the French? She is by no means certain that staying with the German will yield a positive result.