So you're on a back road

(Hypothetical ! !)

You’re on a country back road …

… in the middle of the night and come upon a burning wrecked car…

You know that you’ve got only 90 seconds before the car blows up …

In the front of the car are a man & woman, then in the back are a baby (in a car-seat), & the family dog …

Before the gas tank explodes, you’re got enough time to save ONLY three of the four “occupants” …

In what order would you get them ???

Four-door? Backseat occupants first, then whomever I can get out of the front.

Two-door? Adios, Fido.

In fact, either way Fido’s on his own.


Going back for the dog will result in a swift death by kaboom. Meanwhile, the dog will have escaped on it’s own and be sat watching you return to the car and get blown into pieces.


Yeah, it’s not much of a stumper for me.

That said, I am a Lizard.


Do I have any marshmallows?


Woman baby man

1 Like

Kind of a no-brainer for most folks. Even the occupants would doubtlessly insist on baby first, parents second, wish the dog well. (Exception: if either one of the adults is in good enough condition to help you then save them first so they can assist with the others.)

More morally complex scenario: you have time to save the two occupants in the front OR the two occupants in the back. The first option saves twice as many human lives but the parents have to live with the knowledge that their child died so they could live.


So… If I pull out my phone and film it… How many can I save?


I realize that this might be a sign of being acid-blooded or having a shrivelled circulatory core where my heart should be; but I’d be inclined to give the adults priority over the baby.

The ‘tabula rasa’ theory is nonsense, of course, and even a young baby will have had some amount of input and development; but the adults were once babies as well, and so have that level of development plus a considerable amount thereafter.

That amount of accumulated state makes them even more imperfectly replaceable than a relatively unformed human; so(barring the knowledge that they are nearing EOL for other reasons, and thus ‘saving’ them achieves much less than it appears to; or the knowledge that the additional state accumulation has been for the worse, and picking someone with no state as opposed to lousy state would be attractive) I would be tempted to save them first.

As for the dog; it’d definitely go last if it were yappy; but assuming it wasn’t a lousy dog I’d have a hard time turning my back on a fuzzy little wolf-distillate genetically engineered to unconditionally love me.


Babby first, then woman, then man, out of practicality. Order of increasing weight. If I throw me back out lifting the bloke first, I won’t be no good to rescue anyone else. :slight_smile:


You may already know this, but in a Catholic-run hospital they will save the fetus before the mother if a choice has to be made, but in a Jewish-run hospital they will prioritize saving the mother instead. The argument is similar to yours: the woman is already a full human being, part of a family and community, perhaps even has other children and hopefully might some day be able to have more, so her life takes precedence over a life that’s more theoretic than actual.


Your egregious violation of philosophical-thought-experiment protocol has been noted.


Yeah, there are some frankly fucking dark corners of Catholic moral philosophy.

Not all of them are mainstream even in theory; much less in what ‘Catholics’ as a population do or think; but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.

I remember back in high school, during history class(teacher had a philosophy background; but a good healthy appreciation for futile medieval battles, feudal oppression, plague; etc.); we were having a jolly good time with the history of European togetherness through the ages, then it was Summa Theologica time with kindly St. Anselm. We reached Question 94 : The relations of the saints toward the damned. Really put a damper on the mood of the class; and it’s one of the things I remember more clearly. “Yup, box seats overlooking hell are one of the perks of salvation; and they like it; because that’s good…” And they canonized this guy?

Wasn’t until college that I ran across the ‘bioethics’ (and I use the term loosely) position that certain measures for the amelioration of disability and suffering were morally suspect because(in addition to the potentially ennobling effects on the patient); their state provided a field upon which human compassion, pity, mercy, and respect for fundamental dignity-of-personhood could be developed. That one was good for a “You Kant seriously be claiming that treating someone as a means merely is fundamental to treating him as an end, can you?”.

Widespread ignorance, non-adherence, or active opposition combined with continued enthusiasm for the community and/or ritual make plenty of Catholics perfectly fine to deal with; but pretty much all the philosophy they didn’t steal straight from Aristotle(and some of the stuff they did) makes me more than a trifle nervous.


This may not be the best post to “first reply” to, but it is the one that pulled me out of the shadows I was lurking in and it may give you a glimpse of my brain so you all can determine whether I am bb-worthy or not, so here goes:

First: cars do not tend to spontaneously combust. Therefore there was either a catastrophe or it was deliberately set. Which leaves two reasons the adults have not extricated themselves: they are too injured, or it is by choice.

Regardless, I go to the back first and grab the baby – with the door open, the dog can get itself out unless it’s strapped in, in which case it may be “sorry, dog”. Though if it will take less than a second to free it, might as well, because that less than a second won’t change much in the end.

Baby first for multiple reasons:

  1. it is the least responsible for the current predicament. If this was by catastrophe, the baby had no way to avoid or mitigate it, as opposed to an adult (esp. the driver). If the fire is actions of an unknown third party (is this a drug gang hit), baby did not choose to involve themselves. Same if the adults remain via choice (family suicide).

  2. toxic chemical exposure tends to hit infants harder.

  3. the baby is too young to form memories (specified baby, not toddler) so will suffer least psychological damage.

The next rescue depends on context. If it is obvious that the adults are staying due to injury or incapacitation, start with whichever one is either least trapped or injured (opening the door on the same side as I started). Then return for the other. If, however, it is clear that one or more of the adults was CAPABLE of escape but chooses not to (especially if they indicated deliberate culpability) , then I might just be angry enough to save the dog who didn’t get to choose a firey death. Or, if one of the adults cannot be extricated in time, the dog.

TL;DR Baby first, then it depends on circumstances. Humans first if all else is equal, but there may be some cases where I would save the dog. My mind gets a little dark at times.

Oh and FTR: I am not saying anyone DESERVES a horrible fate, but if forced to choose, I would say the most culpable have the most responsibility for the consequences of their actions. As would I with my choices on who to save.


um, only two of them are likely to have wallets.


Four-door: Open baby door, then mother door. Mother is (in my assumption) most likely to know how to quickly extricate baby from the carrier, and least likely to be attacked by the dog who might be in “defend the baby” mode. I believe the dog will get out by itself on the baby side. If mother seems capable and conscious, I run around and open the dad door (maybe he’s in the passenger seat). If dog still isn’t out, and dad is capable and conscious, I’ll let him take care of it.

Two-door: Fuck me. Same scenario, but geez I need to hurry.


Noticing that “occupants” is written in finger-quotes, and therefore may not refer to the humans and dog…

As a Rogue, I would first get the contents of the trunk, while the man and woman get out and rescue their dog and baby. Then I’d get the contents of the glove box and the change holder.

As a Wizard, I would first get the contents of the gas tank (although that would kinda nullify the scenario), then the catalytic converter (full of precious metals), and finally the dash cam (which could be interesting and/or go viral on youtube).

As a Warrior, I would first grab the fuse that is burning toward the fuel tank (because this isn’t Hollywood and cars don’t usually blow up like that unless someone rigged them to), then the rear hubcaps (which I could add as cool accessories to my armor if I couldn’t resell them).

As a Cleric, I would first get the bottle of booze from the driver’s-side floorboard, then look for any pills in the woman’s purse, and finally get the hood ornament (even if it’s not my religion’s holy symbol, which it probably isn’t, I could perhaps obtain favor with my god or another at some time in the future by properly desecrating the holy symbol of a rival god).


So far so good! Welcome to the BBS!

Yeah, that thing that happens in twelve movies and thirty-eight episodes of TV per year (fiery explosion after car crash) never seems to happen in real life. The two or three full-on roadside carbecues I’ve seen in a quarter century of L.A. commuting weren’t caused by crashes, but rather occurred in cars with nary a dent on them, due to faulty wiring or fuel line issues. I once drove my old '68 F250 home from work one day, parked it, got out, and happened to notice an orange glow under the hood. At that point, the fire was small enough I blew it out like a birthday candle, and didn’t need the extinguisher in the cab, but a few seconds later and that would not have been the case. Turns out the mechanical fuel pump developed a leak and was spritzing gas onto the naked wire connection on the oil pressure sensor directly below it, which was not the best design for avoiding a spark. Lucky thing I noticed it before walking away.


Baby, woman, dog, bloke, of course.

If it was me, as the male, I would be first astonished, then furious with anyone who did anything else.


Huh. Well, that’ll make a nice story for the fatherless baby. “Remember Patches, that faithful mutt that died when you were six?” “Not very well. What about him?” “When you were just a baby, your father sacrificed himself so that the dog could live. He heroically insisted that the dog be rescued before him.” “He did? That’s why I grew up without a father, because he valued the life of an eight-year-old spaniel mutt more than his own?” “Yes, indeed. Isn’t that beautiful?” “I… guess?”