Would I Save My Dog or the President?


If my dog and the president were both drowning and I could only save one, I would save my dog even though it would be better for the world if I saved the president.

Q1 Analysis

This statement does not violate Q1 if you do not consider human life inherently more valuable than animal life.

Q2 Analysis

This statement does not violate Q2 so long as you would allow another person to make the same type of decision (for example, you wouldn’t blame a person for saving their dog instead of you).


This is a very different statement than the one about your child and the president. In this case, your dog might be considered a part of your family group, but it is not part of humanity. Does the humanity group trump the non-human family group for you?

Consider what you would do in these situations.

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 10:25 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Zach
    on July 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I would say human life is inherently more valuable than other life. Maybe that is pretentious, and if we ever find another species that we can talk to and exchange ideas with, I’ll discuss it with them. Certainly, though, compared to zoo animals such as lions, pets such as dogs, and certainly inanimate objects such as money are much less important than human life, so the answer to your first three situations is to always save the human life. In the fourth, I believe it your moral duty to save someone, Hitler included (assuming this wasn’t in the middle of a fight to the death, or some similar circumstance).

    The real point where this topic gets interesting is when you harm an animal to give a benefit less than life to a human. For example, testing drugs or cosmetics on animals.

  2. Written by Clytia
    on July 30, 2010 at 10:04 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I agree with Zach that human life is more valuable than other life, to us. I would think it fine if a dog were to save another dog rather than a human. I see nothing wrong with showing preference for your own species as we do for our own families.
    That said, if by letting Hitler drown I were to prevent even one of the millions of deaths he caused, I would gladly do so. If not, then I’m actually not sure. In a way I tend to think that someone who knowingly and deliberately takes the life of another human, gives up their right to life in doing so. But I’m not sure about that yet.

  3. Written by Megan
    on July 31, 2010 at 7:25 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Question one: Morally wrong, yes. Because the lion attacked *me*, not the other way around. I feel it is my duty as a dog owner to make sure that my pet will not harm an individual when unprovoked. It is a responsibility I accepted when I decided to own a dog, and my pup is only 45 lbs. If I had to kill him to stop him from hurting someone because he simply snapped… I would. I would be devastated, but I would do it because I must. The same with a lion tamer. By taking on a large predator, one must accept that they have the potential to be exceptionally deadly.

    Besides, even if he shot me, the animal would *still* be euthanised for actually killing someone.

    Question 2: This one is hard to answer. Logically, I would have to say the homeless person. My dog is a pretty good swimmer, and might be able to make it ashore. If the person was obviously flailing aimlessly, I’d try to help them so long as it didn’t also result in *my* death… as drowning people tend to often do harm to their rescuers in their panic.

    In a pure panic moment… I don’t know. My dog is very much family to me, and frankly I love him more than many of my blood relatives.

    Question 3: No question. Person. Life is more important than money.

    Question 4: I’d save him. Any death is a sadness to me. I understand sometimes that it needs to happen, both for animals and people… but it doesn’t stop me from being sad. I was the only one I knew that was actually a little sad that Saddam had been executed. I am appalled by the sort of human being he was…. but he was still a living breathing being, and then was dead.

  4. Written by Zach
    on August 1, 2010 at 9:01 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I think, for Question #4, it really depends on the situation. If somehow letting Hitler die would directly result in saving the live(s) of someone killed by the Nazis, then I would probably say that it would be moral to let him drown. But if you’re just walking by the river and you see a man drowning and recognize him as Hitler, even if you somehow knew that this man would spearhead a campaign to kill millions, I still have a lot of trouble saying it would be moral to not save that human life.

  5. Written by Harmonious Chaos
    on August 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I would have trouble choosing not to save my dog, and I think honestly its because people are inherently f*ed up and animals are innocent instinctual beings. AND, its my family.

  6. Written by Live
    on August 3, 2010 at 3:13 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Q1: I agree with Megan, the lion attacked, the trainer should have been more responsible, they should deal with the consequences, as would any responsible owner of a pet. If your dog killed a baby, would you deem it appropriate that your dog was put down because of this? Has to be yes.

    Q2: I would say dog. Losing the dog would have far bigger impact on my life than losing a homeless person, it would be in my best interest and the families’ to save the dog. Although it may sound heartless, I would have far more in common with the family dog than the average homeless person on the street. With what little possessions they have in life, would they save me over their dog?

    Q3: Again, I’ll come across as cold, it depends on what level of pride or satisfaction you could gain from saving either. Perhaps you would feel duty bound to save a human being from death, however, is this necessary? Do humans really HAVE to look out for each other in such a way that it may endanger your own life? More especially if you assume that as soon as you have rescued the homeless person they return to the streets and beg for money for more alcohol? You could be recognised as the local hero for saving them, but for how long? Also, assuming you didn’t know this person, would it be such a loss if they died? And wouldn’t the money be more beneficial for you in the long run?

    Q4: If this event had occurred at any point where Hitler was globally recognised as a nasty dictator, I would watch him drown. For the greater good of the hard-working humanity (as opposed to the useless bum on the street unwilling to change their lives and instead fall in rivers).

    • Written by ideclare
      on August 3, 2010 at 8:31 am
      Reply · Permalink

      @Live: You say that you would save the dog instead of the homeless person. Would you agree that if you were drowning you would not blame someone for not saving you because they mistook you for a homeless person? What if someone rescued their dog instead of you because they thought you were unemployed, an immigrant, “just a waitress,” ill, unintelligent, a drug addict, “one of those ‘goth’ kids,” etc.?

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply