The dog ate my blog post

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Are dogs moral agents? This one looks guilty as to me! I hold him accountable!

We treat our dogs as if they were ‘almost human’: that is why they really become ‘almost human’ in the end.

— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

This entry was posted in C S Lewis, Dogs, Free will, Meta-ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The dog ate my blog post

  1. Terry says:

    Dogs don’t have free will because they don’t have a conceptual reasoning faculty which means they cannot “choose” to employ one. The choice to attain a conceptual awareness of something as opposed to merely a perceptual awareness of that thing is what an exercise of free will is.

    Dogs do have a limited degree of ‘free won’t’ though, whereby they can stop themselves from acting on their subconscious impulses.

  2. Of course dogs have free will. Its much more basic than human free will, but I think it’s fairly obvious that they have it, if you’ve interacted with them.

  3. Tim says:

    Interesting topic.
    Dogs Feel and express some sort of ‘love’.
    They can ‘conceptualize’ things to some doggy degree… they can learn.
    They make choices…
    Yet to say the can distinguish ‘good’ as a moral sense… like ‘justice’ rather than simply know they have done something that they have been rewarded for or punished for is the real question. I suspect they are like Children… in a pre-moral condition… where they can appreciate that mummy says ‘no’ to this….and smacks my bum, yet Mummy say ‘Good boy’ to that and gives me hugs… Yet we don’t throw kids in jail for theft, vandalism, etc because we know they have not conceptualized the notions of Moral responsibility.

    They are sentient beings.
    Yet all this would indicate that sentience is not the foundation of morality.
    C S Lewis again would say that we humans display an innate knowledge of a Law of fairness… as we are always appealing to it when we feel we have been wronged… rather than merely saying ‘I don’t like that’

    Dogs are not sinful because they behaive like Dogs.
    They have no Higher Law which the must obey.
    I believe God created the beasts to set up a ‘heirachy of Being’. God, then Man, then Beast, then plant. and We are supposed to live on a higher plane than the lower beings.
    Atheists are corrupted because they put Man as his own God.
    Ie they have no higher authority than their own whims.

  4. Terry says:

    Tim –

    >>”They can ‘conceptualize’ things to some doggy degree”

    Dogs can ‘perceptualize’ things, they cannot conceptualize things.

    A dog can associate one thing that it perceives with another thing. The mental process of association is not conceptualization though. The process of *abstraction* is.

    e.g. A dog can associate a cause with a effect, or even a chain of effects (up to a limited number). What a dog cannot do is abstract attributes from the things it perceives.

    One can train a dog to bark two times on command. One cannot train a dog to abstract the concept ‘two’ from that command and apply it to some other command.

    One can say “good boy” to the dog in a certain tone of voice. The dog can be trained to associate that expression together with the tone used to mean that you are pleased. The dog cannot conceptualize the concepts “good” and “boy”.

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