We look at the Duck. The Duck looks back.
You could apologise, says the Owner.
I do not see why, I say. It hissed at me, I say, and it Flapped. It would not be Moral to Apologise.
It might be Pragmatic to Apologise, says the Owner, given that it thought you were chasing the Ducks.
The Moral Dog meant no Harm, I say, he was just making a Moral Statement.
I think the Snarling may have Swung It from his perspective, says the Owner. Pragmatically, she adds.
All the Moral Dog was doing was pointing out that to Float is to Cheat, I say, which is it, I say, Morally, I say.
You did slightly more than point it out, says the Owner, you Chased and Barked.
I behaved in Ancestral Dog fashion, I say. Pursuit is a Healthy form of Camaraderie and one that Moral Dogs use all the time. It must therefore be Moral.
Only when playing with other Moral Dogs, says the Owner. Moral Dogs are not meant to play with Ducks.
Ducks are not meant to Jump Out from behind a tree and Fight Back, I say. That is definitely not Moral.
But that is not a Duck, says the Owner.
How can it not be a Duck? I ask. It floats and makes a Peculiar Honking Quack, and it has Beady Eyes and the kind of Haughty Look we have come to associate with the Home Secretary.
All that Glisters is not Gold, says the Owner, and Not Everything that Honks is a Duck.
Moral Dogs should not have to put up with being Deceived by Things Masquerading as Ducks, I say. If it Floats and it Honks it is Positively Obliged to be a Duck. To do Otherwise is by definition Not Moral.
It is a Canada Goose, says the Owner. It comes licensed to Honk and Float.
It cannot be right, I say, for the Moral Dog to pursue One Kind of Bird only to be faced with Another. This Goose Impersonated a Duck. I am taking the Moral High Ground.
You could try shouting your Apology from up there, says the Owner.
The Moral Dog, I say, does not Apologise to Ducks.
The Pragmatic Dog, says the Owner, apologises to Ducks that are Bigger than him.
The Goose hisses malevolently.
Something being Bigger than the Moral Dog is not a Morally Relevant Determinant of whether I should Apologise, I say, It is Morally Irrelevant to the Apportionment of Appropriate Blame.
However, says the Owner, it is Pragmatically Relevant to the fact that the Goose has your Ball.
The Moral Dog is too busy being Moral to be Pragmatic, I say.
Alas, says the Owner, the Ball is too busy being Pragmatic to come back by itself.
I was hoping I could be Moral, I say, whilst you were Pragmatic.
Ssss, says the Goose.
The Owner looks at the Goose. Actually, she says, I also am feeling more Moral than Pragmatic. The Goose appears to have Strong Feelings. Who are we to Judge that they are Not Moral?
You are Right, I say, we must not apply Cultural Relativism to the Goose.
Very good, says the Owner.
It is a Moral and Pragmatic Triumph, we agree, as we leave the Goose.
It is lucky that there is Another Ball at home.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.