Zombies and Ethics: A Holistic Approach to Survival


Nerd culture is, hands down, better prepared for the zombie apocalypse than any other group. We’ve read the stories and watched the movies. We’re ready to fight any zombies, whether they are shamblers or runners. We know what weapons suit us best, what provisions we can grab quickly, whose house among our friend circle is the most easily fortified against invading hordes. We can handle this. Physically.

Now riddle me this, friends: are you philosophically and emotionally prepared for the zombie apocalypse? Are you on the same page as your best friend or significant other? Do you have a plan for long-term survival and society-building?

To better prepare you, here is a list of questions that take a holistic approach to zombie apocalypse survival. There are no right or wrong answers. Bring the list with you on first dates. Discuss it at your next cocktail party. Go over it with your friends, partners, and co-workers. We’ll be in such a state of philosophical readiness, those undead bozos won’t stand a chance.

Warning: some of these questions are pretty emotionally loaded.


  • Do you hunker down or hit the road?
  • Do you make a point to join other survivors?
    • Do you think this would increase or decrease your chance of survival?
  • How far would you go to meet up with your loved ones?
  • If you join or create a group, are you exclusive or inclusive?
    • Can anyone join? Is there a limit?
    • Do people need skills? Which skills?
    • Can they bring children? Is there an age limit?
    • Do you have a limit of how many people you bring?
    • Do you pool resources or feed and arm yourselves?
  • Do you bring your pet?
    • Would the use of a pet for protection, hunting, morale, etc. be worth the added risk and responsibility?
    • Does it matter?
  • Is there a leader?
    • How do you choose the leader?
    • Would you feel safe if the leader wasn’t you?
    • One leader, or several?
    • Hierarchy?
    • Democracy?
  • What is your role?
  • What are your skills, both practical and emotional?
    • Can you fight/cook/heal?
    • Can you make peace/boost morale/take the lead?



  • What do you do if a member of your group gets infected?
  • What do you do if a member of your group is not infected, but is sick or injured?
    • Would keeping them put the rest of your group at risk?
    • Would it be harder to get someone killed because you kept an injured person, or know the injured person almost certainly got killed because you left them?
  • What do you do if you find a baby or someone otherwise not able to care for themselves?
  • What do you do if you find a freshly infected stranger?
  • How do you feel if a cure is found, but you have just killed an infected loved one?
  • What do you do if you hear about a cure, but you don’t have immediate access to it, and a member of your group gets infected?
  • What if you get infected, but no one knows about it but you?



  • What is your goal for your group?
    • Repopulate humanity, or just survive as you are?
  • If you choose to repopulate, would there be a breeding program?
  • If you choose not to repopulate, would you prohibit having children?
  • Does your repopulation rule affect personal relationships?
  • Do you allow other survivors to join the colony?
    • What if those survivors have a different form of government?
  • Do you distribute tasks evenly or based on personal ability?
  • Do you rotate chores or specialize?
  • Are there punishments for not doing assigned tasks?
  • Are there laws?
  • How do you enforce the laws?
  • Do you ever give up or abandon your society?
    • What if you are the last humans?
    • What if there is no hope of a cure for the zombies?
    • What if you are the last survivor of your group?
    • If your society collapses, will you look for a new group?


This is just a jumping off point, of course. Hopefully this will spur meaningful discussions among your chosen survival group before it’s necessary. No one wants to be faced with a tough ethical quandary while swinging a barbed wire bat at a reanimated corpse.


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