01 September 2011

Saving Your Dog

In a libertarian website, I found the following description of a Dennis Prager column. I'm too lazy to check right now whether Dennis Prager actually wrote this, or who the heck he is anyway.

“For 30 years," Prager is supposed to have said, "I have asked high school seniors throughout America which they would save first, their dog or a stranger. In every instance (except some religious schools), one third have voted to save their dog, one third for the stranger, and one third just didn’t know.”

There are a couple of ways to take this story:

1. He might be trying to say that religious schools present superior religious/moral instruction.

2. He might be trying to say that religious schools drill their students to give the 'right' answer to such questions, whether they feel it or not, which would mean not necessarily superior instruction, but character-warping discipline.

One intriguing issue arises from the wording of the question: would the results be different if you asked who should you save first?

If I were running such a survey, anyway, I would want to allow for the possibility that some people would think that they should save the other human being, but they admit to themselves that they wouldn't live up to that Good-Samaritan standard, they would instead save the creature to which they had an existing sentimental attachment.

Just a thought.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.