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August 1st. Dirty Hands.

The Moral Dog Must Never do that Again, says the Owner.

Why not? I ask.

That is an Interesting Philosophical Question, says the Owner. Do you not think that there are Some Things that a Moral Dog should never do? Asks the Owner.

Such as? I say.

That is another Interesting Philosophical Question, says the Owner. Weeing on a Chihuahua, says the Owner, might be a Good Place to Start Answering it.

The Moral Dog begs to Differ, I say. Surely Sometimes the Ends Justify the Means.

Or Are there not Some Means that are Never Justified by Ends? asks the Owner. That is Another Interesting Philosophical Question.

It seems to me, I say, what when a Chihuahua is Attempting to Remove the Permanent Parts of Ones Fluffier Friends, Targetted Weeing is the Least it can Expect.

Aha, says the Owner, whether or not it should Expect It does not tell us whether or not a Dog can do it and still be Moral. We have stumbled upon the Interesting Philosophical Problem of Dirty Hands, says the Owner.

Or Chihuahuas, I say.

Exactly, says the Owner. The Problem of Dirty Hands, or Paws, concerns whether Moral Agents can ever be justified in committing even gravely immoral actions to realise some important Moral End.

Such as the Preservation of a Friend’s essential Parts, I say.

Indeed, says the Owner, or saving One’s Country from Catastrophe, says the Owner. The Problem of Dirty Hands traditionally asks whether Nation States are permitted to Behave in this Way for the Greater Good. Michael Walzer argued that in the Supreme Emergency of Just War, Acting with Severe Immorality could be a Price worth Paying. He suggested that, in such an emergency, Leaders with Responsibility may sometimes find themselves in situations where they cannot avoid acting Immorally, even if they do not Act At All.

If Such Actions can be justified, a Paradox seems to emerge because it appears that sometimes Moral Dogs, not only can but must carry out actions that are Morally Impermissible, I say. As Edmund Burke said, I say, All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that Moral Dogs do nothing, I say.

The Moral Dog is Straying into the Interesting Philosophical Question of the Trolley Problem, says the Owner, when one is asked to Divert the Runaway Trolley to run over One Moral Dog rather than Five.

The Moral Dog would not like to Squash even One Innocent Dog, I say. But is Action the same as Omission?

That is Another Great Philosophical Question, says the Owner. These Questions lie at the point where Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, and Political Ethics all intersect, says the Owner. They are Impossible Questions concerning Impossible Choices that nevertheless demand Real Action or Inaction with no Middle Way. Would the Moral Dog Divert the Trolley and Squash an Innocent Dog, or Leave the Trolley and allow the Person who set it on its Course to Squash Five Innocent Dogs?

Is Weeing on a Chihuahua an Option at this Point? I ask.

No, says the Owner. It is within the Context of the Original Question, says the Owner. Which was, as you may recall, whether there are some things a Moral Dog should Refrain from if he wishes to retain his Moral Crown.

Do you know what I think the real Philosophical Problem is? I say.

I do not, says the Owner, but I am sure that I am about to Find Out, says the Owner.

The Moral Dog ignores the Hint of Sarcasm in the Owner’s Dulcet Tones. The Moral Dog thinks, I say, that the Real Philosophical Problem is that Every Time you ask a Great Philosophical Question about what is Morally Right there is Another Great Philosophical Question with which to Answer it. And whilst Great Philosophers are Busy raising and Answering these Great but Endless Philosophical Questions the Moral Dog has Already Weed on the Chihuahua.

Was that an Apology? Asks the Owner.

That, too, is an Interesting Philosophical Question, I say.

I think that is Advantage the Moral Dog.

Categories: dignity dog dog philosophy

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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