The Owner is obsessing about philosophy. She is writing her PhD on the philosophy and law of organ donation and she keeps talking about deemed consent. This is when someone is understood to have consented to donate their organs because they did not refuse. It is possible, if the conditions are right, she says, to deem consent, but one must take care. The context in which consent is deemed, she says, is crucial. Then she tickles me in a positively familiar manner.
I bring my Thoughts to the rescue.
It seems to me that if, for example, the Owner were to ask the Moral Dog if he wishes to be tickled so that the Moral Dog can engage with the question and consider how it fits in with his first order, second order and third order desires regarding tickling, coming to a fully informed tickling decision ( indicating it to the Owner through appropriate lying-on-back signals), then the Owner can recognise that he has consented to the tickling. She would not deem consent, because she has asked and the Moral Dog has responded.
If, on the other hand, the Owner were to come unexpectedly upon the Moral Dog lying on his back and exposing his stomach, whilst she might deem that he has consented to be tickled she cannot really be sure that he realised she would come upon him in tickling mode. She also cannot, therefore, really be sure that an immediate tickling would not violate his autonomy. After all, he may have laid there in the firm belief that no decent Owner would tickle a Dog’s stomach without asking him. Indeed, he may merely be sleeping or attempting to make contact with a distant star.
The Owner seems to find this most helpful or, at least, she would have done if she could write it down. Unaccountably, she has lost her pencil. Even more unaccountably, it seems she holds me responsible.
I explain her error. I have perfectly reasonably deemed the pencil’s consent. If, for example, a Dog were to make clear to his Owner that, in lying on his back (even whilst sleeping or attempting to make contact with a distant star) he is actively indicating a Wish to be tickled it would be reasonable for the Owner to assume that the tickling could proceed without any Moral Doubts regarding violation of the Dog’s Autonomy. Thus it is for the Pencil.
When apportioning Moral Blame it is therefore important to remember that the pencil had clearly asked to be chewed.
In such circumstances it was perfectly reasonable to deem consent.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.