A New Gearbox, you say? I say.
Yes, says the Owner, and a New Propeller.
On an Inflatable Boat, I say.
Yes, says the Owner.
Consisting of? I say?
Inflatable Rubber Tubes, a Hull, an Engine, a Gearbox and a Propeller, says the Owner. All of those together make a Boat, says the Owner.
And you have put in New Air, I say.
The Clue is in the Name, says the Owner. It is an Inflatable Boat, says the Owner. It is Inflated with Air, says the Owner. Rather than with Self Importance, says the Owner. Like Some Prime Ministers, says the Owner.
And do you plan to replace the Engine? I ask.
Eventually, says the Owner.
What about the Hull? I ask.
Potentially, says the Owner. If we Made a Hole in It, says the Owner.
So, I say, you could replace the Hull, the Air, the Tubes, the Engine, the Gearbox and the Propeller but it would still the the Same Boat? I say.
The Moral Dog is raising the Conundrum of Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus, says the Owner. The Ship of Theseus was a Famous Ship which was displayed in Athens for many centuries. Over time, the Ship’s Planks wore down and were gradually replaced. The Ship of Theseus became an example among the Ancient Philosophers, one side holding that the Ship remained the Same Ship, and the other Contending it was not the Same Ship.
They should have Got Out More, I say. Of course it is the Same Ship, I say. It has not moved, I say. It has Continuity, I say. It has Identity, I say. It is rather like a Moral Dog who Unaccountably Agrees to have his Toenails Trimmed, I say. The Moral Dog is still the Moral Dog, I say. Even after the Owner has attempted to Sand him Down to a Shrivelled Version of his Former Self, I say.
The Moral Dog is taking the view of Aristotle, says the Owner, who considered changes that Do Not Alter the Identity of a Thing, such as when a Moral Dog’s Toenails are Minimally Manicured by a Loving Owner, as changes in Accidental Properties. Essential changes, by contrast, are those that result in Loss of Identity, such as might result if the Moral Dog were to be Gradually Dismantled Piece by Piece and replaced with the parts of a Chihuahua, says the Owner. Would he ever cease to be the Moral Dog and become a Chihuahua? Asks the Owner. Surely he would still be the same Moral Dog?
Good God, I say, what kind of Warped Idea is this, I say. You Philosophers are all the same, I say. I am Packing my Bags, I say.
It was a Thought Experiment, says the Owner. Nobody is planning to Dismantle the Moral Dog, says the Owner.
I bet that is what you said to the Boat, I say.
The Boat needed a new Gearbox, says the Owner, owing to the Owner having Crashed the Old One into a Scillonian Rock. However the Gearbox is not the Moral Soul of the Boat, says the Owner. On the other Hand if all Parts of the Moral Dog were Removed and Replaced, but the Removed Parts were reconstructed into the same Moral Dog in another Room, which would then be the Moral Dog? Or Would there now be Two Moral Dogs?
It depends if they would have to share the Lollies, I say.
That is Exactly the Question, says the Owner. And If the Moral Dog can be said to exist in two places at the same time, were there, as Constitutionists claim, actually Two Moral Dogs in the Original Moral Dog in the First Place, just Waiting to Divide?
It sounds Extremely Uncomfortable, I say. There Definitely is not room for another Moral Dog in here, I say. I hope you are not planning to Squash One In, I say.
The Temporal Parts theorists, says the Owner, say that we do not need to because, in fact, there are a whole series of Moral Dogs, each of which exists at a different Time but in the Same Space.
It is getting Very Crowded in Here, I say. I do not Like It, I say. You need to get these Philosophers Off Me, I say.
It is not crowded, says the Owner, it is all an Idea, says the Owner. The Moral Dog is made of Molecules, says the Owner. What is being questioned here is not what the Moral Dog is made of, but how we Think of Him, and how the Moral Dog thinks of himself. Indeed a Nihilist would take the View that there is no Moral Dog at all beyond our Imagination, there are only Mereological Simples, which are Gatherings of Atoms in the Void.
Those Nihilists are a Miserable Lot, I say. They deserve to be only Atoms in a Void, I say. The Groups of Atoms that is the Moral Dog is defined as a Person, I say. He has a Narrative Existence, I say. He can Affect the World and be Changed by it, I say. He remembers Himself, I say. And the Owner remembers him, I say. And Our Memories are the Same, I say.
Does the Moral Dog remember the time he saw a Rhinoceros in the Coffee Shop and Everyone Fell over the Stampeding Dogs? Asks the Owner.
The Moral Dog senses a Trick Question. I definitely do not, I say. That is not what Happened, I say. I was Entirely Innocent, I say. It was a Dreyfus Moment, I say.
The Point Is, says the Owner, that memories fade and change, says the Owner. And what if he does not remember things that he has Indisputably Done? Says the Owner. What does it take for a person to persist from one time to another? What sort of things are You and I? What are our fundamental properties? Are we composed entirely of Atoms, as the Nihilists claim, or are we partly immaterial? Where do our boundaries lie? Do we extend all the way out to our skin and no further? Are we substance or activity? Are we Real or are we Imagining Ourselves?
I think I feel the beginning of a Headache, I say. What do Philosophers say about what makes the Moral Dog? I ask.
They Struggle Constantly with the Concept, says the Owner.
You do surprise me, I say.
Some say we are Only Biological organisms, says the Owner, whilst Others say we are a series of Temporal Identities reliant on Such Organisms. Some say we are Brains or Parts of Brains, yet others, such as Plato and Descartes, see us as having Metaphysical Existence beyond and separate from such Organisms. Locke saw self-reflection as defining Personhood, and continuity contained both in our Own memories of that Self and in those of Others, says the Owner. Hume saw us as bundles of perceptions, says the Owner, but Wittgenstein said we do not exist at all.
That is rich coming from a Man who said he would not Understand a Lion if it Spoke, I say.
It is true that Wittgenstein was a Little Negative at Times, says the Owner. Most Modern Philosophers take a Psychological-Continuity view of the persisting Self as consisting ofNarratively Linked Moments and Memories Inexorably Tied to a Biological Being, says the Owner. However, says the Owner, there is no Single Established View as to what it is that is the Moral Dog, where he is Located and whether he has an Existence Greater than the Sum of his Parts.
I knew this was about my Parts, I say. I am not having them Chopped Off, I say. And that is the End of It, I say.
Not Everything we say and do is about your Parts, you know, says the Owner.
Now the Moral Dog Totally knows that it is.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.