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January 27th. Between the Lines.

The Owner is reading an Article in the Guardian about Beauty. Many Owners, it seems, are having their faces Injected in order that they should look Young and Fresh.

Should I be doing this, Hergest? She asks. And Please Be Honest, she adds.

The Moral Dog is Always Honest. Why would you want to look Young and Fresh? I ask. You seem to Manage Perfectly Well as you Are, despite being Adorned with Characterful Wrinkles.

The Owner assumes the Expression of One who has Eaten the Wrong Sandwich, the one with Dog Food In It. I was Rather Hoping, she says, you might say that I Already look Young and Fresh.

But said you Wanted me to Be Honest, I say.

I thought you Might Read Between the Lines, says the Owner.

Well, I say, you do look Young and Fresh Between the Lines. Where the Moral Dog can see a Gap.

Sometimes, says the Owner, it is Kinder to be Economical with the Truth.

Immanuel Kant said that Lying is always Wrong, I say, because if we made it Acceptable to Lie it would be Impossible to take any Statement Seriously, and society would collapse. Do you not Agree with Kant’s Universal Maxim?

He did say that, says the Owner, but whilst it may be Broadly True many people feel Kant’s View on Lying is too Inflexible to cover All Moral Situations, and he was Simply Being Ridiculous. Others suggest that in fact Kant has been Misunderstood and the Universal Maxim already allows for Some Leeway. In Other Words, one could Universalise Particular Types of Lie, such as Lying about the Whereabouts of One’s Owner in order to Protect Her from a Headless Zombie.

The Moral Dog would of course Tell a Lie about the Whereabouts of the Owner in order to Save Her from a Headless Zombie, I say, although I am not sure that the Zombie so Challenged in the Head Department would Pose a Very Serious Threat. However, given that we are in the Kitchen with the Lights On and you are listening to the Rough Island Band, I think the Zombie Threat is Currently at Defcon One. It is well known that they are Not At All Musical. As I say this I glance quickly out of the Window in case the Zombies are Creeping Up on Us, Carrying their Heads. The Moral Dog is Always Prepared.

I take your point, says the Owner, but my Zombie Example was meant to Illustrate a More General Principle. Sisella Bok, in her famous work on Lying, suggests that the Test of Publicity can Justify some Lies, because they survive the Appeal for Justification to Reasonable Persons. She suggests that if a Lie is Such that the Majority of the Public would feel it was, on Balance, the Right thing to Do, then it is Morally Justified.

You did not allow me Chance to arrange a Formal Public Consultation when you Asked my Opinion, I say. A Response seemed to be Required Immediately.

There is not always time for a Public Consultation, says the Owner, but without the Public Consultation One Must Search One’s Own Conscience for the Right Course of Action. It is Sometimes Kinder to Lie to Protect those Held in High Regard. In this Case this would ensure that Owner was left Free to Imagine she was In the Prime of Life.

To Deceive those Held in High Regard into thinking things are Good when they are Not Good is to Deny them the Opportunity to Face the Truth, I say. In this case if I were to Suggest that the Owner’s Lines barely numbered in Double Figures the Owner might get an Unfortunate Shock when she looked into a Particularly Harshly Lit Mirror.

Good Lord, says the Owner. How many Lines have I Got?

I have Not Counted, I say. If you Really Want an Accurate Answer, it may Take Some Time.

I do not Really Want an Accurate Answer, says the Owner. That is the Point. The Moral Dog needs to Grasp the Subtleties of Mutually Agreed Semi-Rhetorical Responses. Sisella Bok says that some Questions are Well Recognised by Both Parties as being Asked in Expectation of Deception. When, for Example, an Owner asks the Moral Dog if her Bottom is Currently Looking Big there is an Understanding that Such Questions are subject to Special Social Rules.

I am Well Aware of the Acute Sensitivities of the Owner regarding her Rear View, I say, since I was Present when the Man made the Unfortunate Mistake and indeed I assisted with the Resulting Hysteria. I do not, however, recall any Such Established Understanding regarding the Owner’s Charming although Aged Visage. We could, however, Make One Now. How Many Lines Would You Prefer to Know About in order to Balance the Risks of Future Shock with the Pleasures of Current Self-Deception?

Apparently the Owner does not Have Time to Make One now. She has Gone for a Facial.

Categories: dignity dog dog philosophy Kant Lying Moral Dog Sisella Bok White Lies

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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