What is Happiness? I ask.
There is no Easy Answer, says the Owner, because the meaning of the question itself is unclear.
It seems Perfectly Clear to Me, I say. On a Scale of One to Ten where One is No Cheese and Ten is Possession of One’s Own Personal Fridge, Ten is Happy.
The Moral Dog is wrapping several different Accounts of Happiness around a Misguided and, frankly, Unrealistic bid for a Fridge, says the Owner.
The Happiness is Draining from the Moral Dog Already, I say.
Philosophers talk of Happiness in Three Ways, says the Owner. An Immediate State of Mind, such as may be caused by the Immediate Presence of Cheese, a sense of Life Going Well, which may be Encapsulated in the Ownership, or Otherwise, of a Fridge, or an Emotional State, which is Something more Global.
On the Basis of All Three, I say, the Fridge-Free Moral Dog is clearly Somewhat Miserable.
Not Necessarily, says the Owner. The State of Mind Theory suggests that the Perception of Happiness involves a Value Judgement both regarding the Importance of Certain Elements to Happiness, and the Likelihood of Attaining them. Thus a Moral Dog in a Cheese-Free Home may moderate his Expectations of Cheese and Find Happiness instead in the Simple Pleasures of a Comfortable Cushion, a Loving Owner and a Regular Supply of Salmon Kibble for Sensitive Stomachs.
All Moral Dogs require Cheese, I say. You Cannot Get Around the Moral Dog That Way, I say.
Ah, says the Owner, the Moral Dog Ascribes to the Objective List Theory of Happiness which claims that there are certain elements of Happiness on which we All Agree. Aristotle took this view of Happiness as a Life Going Well, suggesting that Fulfilment of our Moral Capacity is the Agreed Source of Happiness. On This Basis, However, One who creates the Glorious Music of the Rough Island Band may be Happy whilst one who Lies all day on a Cushion eating Easily Acquired Cheese is not.
The Moral Dog does not deny the value of Music, I say. He is simply Observing that a Life without Cheese is No Life, and a Fridge plays an important part of this.
The Emotional State view of Happiness identifies Happiness with having a favourable attitude toward one’s life as a whole, says the Owner. One has to Count One’s Blessings in a Broad Sense, says the Owner. One has to weigh the Absent Fridge against the Present Owner, says the Owner.
Whilst your Bottom does look Big from Some Angles I think The Fridge is Heavier, I say. It seems to me, I say, that how well my life is going and how much of a Hole is Left in my Happiness by the Absence of a Fridge is for me to decide.
On the Contrary, says the Owner, Happiness involves Multiple Dimensions that cannot easily be Balanced.
You seem to be suggesting that the Moral Dog can be wrong about how Happy he is, I say.
That is entirely Possible, says the Owner, particularly if the Moral Dog is a Shallow Cheese-driven Creature who does not Value the Things that Matter. Imagine the Thought Experiment of Robert Nozick’s Experience Machine, says the Owner. Nozick imagined that you Have No Cheese but can be Plugged Into a Virtual Reality machine that that can perfectly simulate the Reality of Cheese to the Exclusion of All Else. Would you plug yourself into this machine for life, giving yourself a Perfect Sense of Cheese?
What sort of a Silly Question is that? I ask.
There you are then, says the Owner. That just goes to show that there is More to Life than Cheese.
On the Contrary, I say. Where is the Plug?
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.