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April 3rd. The Brotherhood.

Hergest, says the Owner, stop Howling.

It is traditional, I say. I need to communicate with the Brotherhood of Dogs, I say. I Howl again.

Can you not just speak to them in the Park? Asks the Owner. You may be attracting Hyaenas.

No, I say, because our limited exercise times rarely overlap and I Do Not See Them. And there are no Hyaenas in Highgate.

There will be if you Keep Howling, says the Owner. Could you not contact your Friends on Social Media?

Do not be Ridiculous, I say. I am a Dog. I howl again.

It does not stop you Blogging, says the Owner. I am sure the Other Dogs feel you are communicating daily.

This had not occurred to the Moral Dog. You mean the Other Dogs may have been Looking at my Blog? I say.

Let us hope so, says the Owner.

Let us hope not, I say.

Why is that? Asks the Owner.

I may have Betrayed the Brotherhood, I say. Slightly, I say.

Is this about the Photograph of you with the Fox? says the Owner.

Possibly, I say. A Fox cannot be in the Brotherhood, I say. It is against the Rules, I say.

Perhaps the Rules are Wrong, says the Owner.

The Rules are up to the Brotherhood, I say. It is Our Brotherhood. We have a Right to Freedom of Association. We have right to determine who is in the Club.

You raise an Interesting Philosophical Point, says the Owner.

I feared as much, I say.

There are Great Philosophical Debates about the nature and scope of our Freedom to associate with Others, and our Freedom to exclude Others from such Association, says the Owner. Our degree of Freedom to decide who is In and who is Out is not Limitless.

John Stuart Mill said we can unite for any purpose not involving harm to others and have the right to choose the society most acceptable to us, I say. That must surely involve the Right to Exclude others who Do Not Belong.

But, says the Owner, if the Fox is Excluded, where is His Freedom of Association?

The Fox should not want to Associate with Dogs, I say.

Why not? Says the Owner. What is wrong with forming a non-Speciesist Society of Friends?

It is not the way it is Done, I say.

The Owner raises One of her Eyebrows in the Way Caspar and I have been trying to do for Ages.

I did not Make the Rules, I say.

No, says the Owner, but you can Change Them. You should be proud to be an Open Minded Dog who does not determine Potential Friends only by their Species.

I am, I say, but Lucifer, Houdini, Caspar and Bercow may not agree. Even Jeremy the Beagle, who has been known to lecture on politics to Passing Ducks, may look Dimly on a Fox.

Then you have formed the Wrong kind of Brotherhood, says the Owner.

What is wrong with a Brotherhood of Dogs? I ask.

Nothing, says the Owner, if it is used to Include on Morally Justifiable Grounds. It would be Morally Justifiable, for example, to have Chess Club open only to those who wished to Play Chess, since Playing Chess is Morally Relevant to the Purpose of the Club, and the Purpose of the Club is itself Morally Acceptable. But you could not exclude those who wished to play chess but also, for example, had Red Hair, or were a Fox. If the Purpose is not Acceptable, or if the Rules for Inclusion are not Morally Relevant to that Purpose, then it becomes just a Means to Exclude.  

Why can we not have a Club just for people who wish to Enjoy being a Dog together? I ask.

You can, says the Owner, but the Fox may also wish to Enjoy being a Dog, says the Owner.

That is Ridiculous, I say. He is Not a Dog.

Being a Fox does not prevent him from Wishing to Enjoy being a Dog, says the Owner, the Matter is for Him to decide. And besides, if the True purpose of the Club is, in Fact, the Celebrate enjoying the Kinds of Things Dogs like, such as Sticks, and Balls, and Fox Poo, then why should he not Feel the Same Enjoyment? It is, after all, his Poo.

You are so Tricky, I say. Ancestral Dogs did not befriend Foxes.

That was their loss, says the Owner. The obligatorily gregarious natures of Humans and Moral Dogs mean that we need to Bond with Others. Our recognition that the Fox also has such needs places a limit on our freedoms to Associate yet Exclude. A Fox shunned by everyone is denied all Friendship. Poor Fox.

You mean the Fox might be Lonely? I ask

Exactly, says the Owner.

Oh, I say.

I really have no idea that they are all going to say when I tell them that the Fox is joining the Brotherhood. But the Owner is wearing That Face. So I will give it a go.

Maybe not in a Howl, though. It might be better in Person.

Categories: coronavirus covid diary Covid-19 dignity dog dog philosophy

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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