Conversations with the Cat II


HUMAN: Get down from that table, Cat.

CAT: Why would you put all this food up here where I can barely reach it?

HUMAN: No, that’s bad.

CAT: See, now you’re just putting more distance between me and the food. This is not convenient.

HUMAN: Well, I guess it’s not “bad” intrinsically. It’s just not desirable behavior from my perspective.

CAT: Turn around so I can climb on the table again.

HUMAN: To clarify, you engage in bad behavior because you do not have the stigma of “bad” symbiotically attached to it.

CAT: I think I will go sit near the cat food spoon drawer again.

HUMAN: This is not to say that you are innately bad. You may be self-serving, but you are given a free pass because of your supposed inability to understand our reasons for not letting you unroll all the paper towels in the house. Saying that any creature is innately good or innately bad seems pointless, as both terms are so difficult to unanimously define anyway.

CAT: I think this piece of string just attacked me?! I will fight it to the death if I must.

HUMAN: Some would say that good intentions are what define good actions, but the question is, good according to whom? Most people would say “beneficial to the greatest number,” but that is unsatisfying. For instance, our policy of keeping cats off tables benefits a majority of those who live in this house, but is detrimental to you.

CAT: Why does it not bleed.

HUMAN: The policy could be deemed “good,” but in reality it also has a “bad” side with a slimmer margin. By this mathematical definition, anything that benefits 51% of all parties is good. It removes the possibility of a grey area.

CAT: I have completely lost interest in the string. I will try to jump on top of the TV set again.

HUMAN: I don’t think that good can be interpreted as solely subjective or objective. It needs to be rooted in something more substantial than our own whims, but it can never be absolute either.

CAT: Wait I think there is something on the other side of that window. I will stare at it forever! Nothing will break my all-seeing gaze!

HUMAN: Morality is, naturally, an incredibly situation-dependant topic. There will always be a counterexample to any action one would think of as wholly good. Telling the truth is accepted as moral… until you are hiding an innocent family from robot-police overlords or something.

CAT: I am such a good hunter.

HUMAN: So, I suppose the question of “What is the basis of morality?” will incontrovertibly lead to a different question: “Can the definition of morality ever be known?”

CAT: Something made a noise! I need to go to the other side of the house!

HUMAN: The conclusion I’ve reached it that there is no conclusion.

CAT: The noise went away so I came back. WAIT. Is that food on the table? I need to put my face near it!

HUMAN: Get down from that table, Cat. That’s bad.


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