What is it Like to be a Person? I ask.
How do you know it is Like Anything? Says the Owner.
It must be Like Something, I say. Otherwise what would be the Point?
The Moral Dog raises an Interesting Philosophical Question, says the Owner. Most Philosophers see Two Central Arguments; Can we know Animals are conscious? and Can we know what, if anything, the Experiences of Animals are like?
The Moral Dog is Certainly Conscious, I say. It is a Matter of Common Sense that Dogs have Conscious Experiences, I say. I know This Since I am a Dog, I say. However, I say, we Dogs have the same questions about Owners, I say. How do we know you are Conscious? I say. Rather than some sort of Cheese Dispensing Automaton? I say.
I think therefore I am, says the Owner. Is that not enough for the Moral Dog?
That only tells the Moral Dog that you Think you Are, I say. Whereas I know that I Am but I do not know that You Are, I say. We Moral Dogs have taken a Pragmatic Approach, I say. We do not Infer that our Owners are Conscious, any more than we infer that Chihuahuas are Conscious. We simply Treat them as if they are Conscious Beings and That is That.
Humans take the Philosophical Approach, says the Owner. Philosophers point to the many Similarities between the behaviour of Dogs and Owners, says the Owner. Their Well-Aligned views on Cheese would be One Example, says the Owner. David Hume thought it was simply obvious that “Beasts are endow’d with thought and reason as well as Men”. Darwin said that the more the habits of any Particular Animal are Studied the more he attributes to Reason, and the less to Instinct, says the Owner.
Although, I say, we are Mysteriously Unaligned on Fox Poo, I say.
Scientists suggest that Brain Anatomy and Considerations of Evolutionary Continuity between Species suggest Commonality of Conscious Experience, says the Owner. Fox Poo is an Aberration, says the Owner. In the same way that the Man likes Artichokes, says the Owner.
We Dogs See Your Point, I say. Particularly Regarding Artichokes, I say. But Us Dogs remain Uncertain as to whether Humans are Conscious, I say. Given that you do not Make Sense to us Half the Time, I say. Your Recently Purchased Pink Shoes, at a price which would have Secured Several Lollies and a Small Fridge, I say, are a Prime Example, I say.
Many Philosophers argue that Consciousness is inherently Private, says the Owner, so that one’s Own Experience is Unknowable to others. The Philosopher Thomas Nagel assumes that there is something that it is like to be a Bat, but regarded knowing what it is like as a Scientifically Tricky Problem, says the Owner.
Why do you not simply Ask a Bat? I ask.
Language may allow the Moral Dog to Communicate his Consciousness of being a Moral Dog, says the Owner, but I do not speak Bat.
You do not speak Chinese either, I say, but you do not doubt that there is Something that it is Like to be Chinese.
That is Different, says the Owner. Human Chinese Translates into Human English. Bat does not. It is All Clicky. As the Gloomy but Necessary Wittgenstein said, if a Lion could speak we would Not Understand Him.
It must be Like Something to be a Bat, I say. A Bat knows it is not a Person, I say, so that, relatively Speaking, it is a Bat, I say. A Bat must be aware of itself as a Physical Bat, of its Mind as a Thoughtful Bat; of its Self as a Character in the Narrative Lives of Others, I say.
That is Very Profound, says the Owner. That assumes that a Bat is a Moral Agent, says the Owner.
I am sure it is, I say, but I would not trust Bat Morals, I say. All that Clicking, I say. And they Poo on Church Pews, I say. You would not see Moral Dogs doing that, I say.
I think if one assumes there is a Bat Self-Consciousness, one must assume Bat Morals, says the Owner. Bats do not eat Other Bats, says the Owner. They are Kind to their Colony, says the Owner. There is Evidence for the Understanding of Narrative Lives, says the Owner. Many Bat behaviours suggest Planning and Foresight, says the Owner. Some Weasels hide bunches of Bananas inside Bromeliads, says the Owner. Some Moral Dogs Order Fridges Online when their Owners are not Looking, says the Owner.
I wondered when we were Coming to That, I say.
So, says the Owner, using the Philosophical Approach I must conclude that the Moral Dog is both Conscious and a Moral Agent, says the Owner. But I must also conclude that he has the Morals of a Slippery Eel, says the Owner. That is the Strength of the Philosophical Approach, says the Owner. I assume, says the Owner, that the Moral Dog, through using the Pragmatic Approach, has concluded the same about his Owner, says the Owner.
Not Quite, I say. Although The Pragmatic Approach says that even if you are an Automaton, I need you to Plug in the Fridge.
Thankyou Very Much, says the Owner.
You are welcome, I say.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.