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June 1st. Impossible choices.

It will soon be your Birthday, says the Owner.

Will it? I say. I hadn’t realised, I say.

It must just be a coincidence that the Moral Dog has spent the entirety of the last week browsing the Facebook Guide to Gifts for Dogs, says the Owner.

Indeed, I say, I barely remember looking at such a Site, I say.

I assume you therefore do not know what you would like for your Birthday, says the Owner.

I had barely given it Any Thought. I say.

Well then, said the Owner, I thought perhaps a…

Although, I say, I do have a short list of items which, were anyone to offer a Moral Dog a gift, he would certainly choose, I say.

Really, says the Owner.

A Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow and a trip to the seaside, I say.

That sounds… begins the Owner.

I have not finished yet, I say. I was merely drawing breath, I say. A year’s supply of Cheese, a trip to the Park, a swim in the Pond, a party with Balloons, a Cheese Scone, a play date with Houdini, a freezer of my Own, Freedom to Jump on Whoever I like and all the Balls I can carry, I say.

You don’t want much, do you? Says the Owner.

I am glad you agree, I say. I thought I would keep it Modest, I say. In keeping with my Usual Expectations, I say.

Alas, says the Owner, gifts for Birthdays are subject to certain Ground Rules. For example, such Gifts normally Complete or Soon After the birthday itself.  A Year of Cheese is therefore Not Allowed since the Birthday gift would not then be a Birthday Gift but would Establish a New Cheese Norm.

I understand that, I say. The Year’s supply of Cheese does not need to be supplied over a period of a Year. I would not Dream of Establishing a new Cheese Norm I add (slightly inaccurately). I could manage a Year’s Supply of Cheese in a 24 hour period if necessary, I say. Or Forty-Eight Hours to avoid Accusations of Gluttony, I say.

The Moral Dog is having a Larf, says the Owner.

Very well, I say, I will settle for a Meagre Single Day’s Ration of Cheese, together with a Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow, a trip to the Seaside, a trip to the Park, a swim in the Pond, a party with Balloons, a Cheese Scone, a play date with Houdini, a freezer of my Own, Freedom to Jump on Whoever I like and all the Balls I can carry, I say.

The Freedom to Jump on Others is Subject to Moral Rules, says the Owner. One cannot be promised a Positive Freedom since it clashes with the Negative Freedom of Others not to be Jumped Upon.

I don’t see why they should win, I say.

It is a well-established Moral Principle that Negative Freedoms are held to be more Morally Compelling than Positive Freedoms, says the Owner.

Very well, I say, I will grant you that, I say, I will settle for a Meagre Single Day’s Ration of Cheese, together with a Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow, a trip to the Seaside, a trip to the Park, a swim in the Pond, a party with Balloons, a Cheese Scone, a play date with Houdini, a freezer of my Own, and all the Balls I can carry, I say. I shall call them all Mildred, I say.

The Party with Balloons is, alas, off Limits, says the Owner, unless you are Perchance related to Dominic Cummings in which case there may be Some Leeway? I believe it is called Pulling a Barnard.

I would not Dream of Pulling a Barnard, I say, I will Forego the Party Voluntarily, as I am a Moral Dog.

That is very Noble, says the Owner, and I in return will offer the Balloons as an Optional Extra. So which of his other choices would the Moral Dog like the Most?

You mean I have to Choose? I ask. Between a Meagre Single Day’s Ration of Cheese, a Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow, a trip to the Seaside, a trip to the Park, a swim in the Pond, a Cheese Scone, a play date with Houdini, a freezer of my Own, and all the Balls I can carry, I say.

There may be an issue of Resource Limitation, says the Owner, given that the Birthday is only 24 hours long. The Moral Dog will have to Choose.

But I cannot choose, I say.  I value everything Equally, I say.

Nevertheless, says the Owner, you must prioritise.

I appreciate the concession regarding Balloons, I say, since no Birthday can be complete without them. But the Mildreds are clearly Essential, and how am I to choose between a Cheese Scone and a Play Date with Houdini? I say. Houdini offers little by way of Nourishment but the Scone is completely hopeless when it comes to being Chased Around the Pond. And without a Freezer of my Own where will I keep my Unlimited Lollies?

They were not on your list, says the Owner.

I assumed they came with the Freezer, I say. I cannot prefer an Empty Freezer to my Good Friend Houdini, I say. How can a mere Electrical Appliance compete with a Moral Dog? I say. Even one so Conspicuously Absent so much of the time owing to being In the Pound? I say.

Indeed, says the Owner, without Lollies the Freezer would be a mere reminder of a Present Absent, whilst Houdini would be an Absent Present. Hahaha.

I ignore the Owner’s Inappropriate Humour. Very well, I say, I will remove the Freezer from the List.

That leaves a Meagre Single Day’s Ration of Cheese, a Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow,  a trip to the Seaside, a trip to the Park, a swim in the Pond, a Cheese Scone, a play date with Houdini, and all the Balls the Moral Dog can carry, says the Owner. Which is, of course, Two Balls, she Adds, since his Eyes are Bigger than his Mouth.

That is true, I say. Two Mildreds is Barely more than One, I say, and One Mildred is an Established Norm. As are the Trip to the Park, the Cheese Scone and the Meagre Single Day’s Ration of Cheese, I say.

Half a Cheese Scone, says the Owner.

Very Well, I say, I will Forego the Mildreds, the Park, the Cheese and the Scones in favour of a Squeaky Rat, a piece of Dead Cow, a trip to the Seaside, a swim in the Pond, and a play date with Houdini.

Now you must Choose your Favourite, says the Owner.

I cannot do that, I say. How can I choose between my Good friend Houdini, despite his Frequent Absences, and a Squeaky Rat which, whilst Somewhat Disinterested in the Struggle for Liberation, can always be relied upon to Squeak at Dead of Night and will be a friend to Squeaky Cat who Occasionally wears a Lonely, if somewhat Staring, expression. Such things cannot be chosen between.

You have encountered the Philosophy of Impossible Decisions, says the Owner, in which no Option is clearly more desirable, because their Moral Goods are different in Nature.

Then I cannot be expected to choose, I say.

Without choice, says the Owner, I shall not know what you prefer and may randomly choose something I think appropriate. Such as an Old Sock or a trip to see our Good Friend the Vet.

That is not fair, I say. It is impossible to choose between Houdini and a Squeaky Rat, I say.

The Philosopher Ruth Chang suggests that you should first remember that every decision you make is only for now, says the Owner. So, if you choose a play date with Houdini for your birthday that will not mean that you and Squeaky Cat will never have a Squeaky Rat. And, by the way,  you were never having a Freezer. That is too ridiculous for words.

It seems that the Moral Dog’s choices are narrowing rapidly, I say. It has been a relief to know that my Squeaky Rat and Cheese needs will at least not be Entirely Abandoned after this Hideously Rationed Birthday, I say, but it does not help me determine how a play date with Houdini, which doubtless will be limited to ten minutes or less, can be Morally Compared to a Trip to the Seaside.

You applying only your Intellectual Intelligence to the problem, says the Owner. Intellectual Intelligence cannot choose between Options of differing Moral Kind. Consider instead your Emotional and Sensory Intelligence. Imagine yourself experiencing the options. How do they Feel?

I imagine the Play Date with Houdini, the Trip to the Seaside and the Squeaky Rat. I am imagining, I say.

Which do you feel is the Most Enjoyable? Asks the Owner.

The Trip to the Seaside is Joyous and Exciting, I say, but the play date with Houdini is Morally Nourishing, and the Squeaky Rat has a Great Potential to be a Friend in Times of Need. I do not like having to make this Choice, I say.

Indeed, says the Owner, and neither do all who face such Choices. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the Choices that are given us. Hahahahahaha.

How outrageous. I retreat to my Cushion. It comes to something, I tell Squeaky Cat, when the Moral Dog is put through an Emotional Grinder just for the sake of the Owner using her Gandalf Quote. The Moral Dog will, frankly, be amazed if he gets anything for his Birthday at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: choices dignity dog dog philosophy

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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