The Problem of Fault in Dogs

The other night, I was having a conversation about a couple of dogs that had attacked my little puppy while he was on leash and the attackers were not. During the course of the conversation, we used words like “fault” and “responsibility,” which turned the conversation decidedly philosophical.  What is “fault” and “responsibility” as it applies to a dog?  One end of the continuum would say that no dog is at fault — only the human (owner) is, because the human is supposed to be the Alpha (dominant ranking) of the pack that includes this dog and, therefore, the human establishes the pack parameters.  Apart from a dog having an owner, how does “fault” and “responsibility” shake out, if it can — is it true “no dog is at fault”?

I like philosophical questions, especially for matters that I know will come up time and time again. And while I can’t hold a candle to one of my favorite theologians, C.S.Lewis (with particular relevance to his book, “The Problem of Pain”), let the exploring begin!

We’ve got the following elements all mashed together that we’re trying to sort out:

  • Nature of dogs.
  • Individual dog personalities.
  • Human affect on dogs.
  • What is an environment.
  • Reasoning, free will, and responsibility.

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pthd, pthd, pthd — Meep meep!

A friend of my said, in the course of a conversation of a political nature, that, since politics is in its current state with the strength of extreme characterizations of partisan positions, providing ample fodder for humorists, Colbert is successful; and he would not be as successful if this were not the case.

My first thought was this was a tautological (petitio principii, begging the question, or circulus in probando, circular reasoning) because it sounded like he was saying, “Colbert is successful in the current circumstances that allow him to be funny, but under different circumstances, he would not be successful.”  The circle would happen by unconsciously accepting the assumption that the requirement for his success is due to the extremes in political positions, actions, statements, etc.  If there were not extremes, which create comedic fodder, Colbert would not be “successful.”

But I wasn’t sure, so I peppered him with an opening salvo of queries. The exercise was to try pealing back the layers of assumption for some sort of insight into why he would make such a statement and reveal what he was “really saying.”

Note: when I say “humor”, I mean humor, comedy, and satire; by humorist, I mean humorist, comedian, and satirist.

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