Letting the Dog Out and Compatibilism

This morning I slept in.  It was delightful.  Unfortunately while I was sleeping in, our dog Largo was following his nature.  He needed to be let outside so that he could take care of business.  But no one let him out.  So, he went into the corner of the basement and…well you can probably guess what he did.

So, the question arises, whose fault is it that Largo made a mess in the corner?  Was it his  fault?  Or was it my fault?  The compatibilist and libertarian answer this question differently.

The compatibilist says that free will lies in following one’s nature, thus it was Largo’s fault.   Largo  has been commanded to do his business outside.  Largo broke the command, and “chose” to relieve himself  in the basement instead.

The libertarian says that free will lies in having genuine choices, thus it was my fault.  Largo could not have done other than what he did.  He was not culpable for breaking my command because (without my assistance) he did not have the option to keep it.

Who do you think is right?  Was Largo’s mess his fault, or mine?



Filed under Calvinism, free will

12 responses to “Letting the Dog Out and Compatibilism

  1. I think it was one of your kids fault! :-)

    Why are we SO fixated with pointing out blame? I think perhaps that is the crucial question! Just my thought!

  2. Ultimately, the blame must go on God. After all, it was He that made dogs what they are, knowing full well that they would come into situations like this. So…consider yourself “off the hook!”

    On the other hand, you could choose to be like Jesus, and “bear the sins of many”.

    It’s your choice: blame or forgiveness; condemnation or salvation; Satan or Christ….whom do you want to follow?

    P.S. – I love the application of common events to philosophical problems!

  3. Did Fido yelp, wail, howl, or otherwise communicate his discomfort and need? If not, he depravedly ignored the higher power who could have heard his cries and helped, despite the fact that his experience of the world clearly demonstrated that higher power was willing to help in such situations (assuming you regularly let the poor chap out to do his business). Therefore, Fido is without excuse, his mess is his own, and you would be perfectly justified locking him in the pound for all eternity if you so elected.

  4. Pingback: Letting the Dog Out and Compatibilism | Society of Evangelical Arminians

  5. Kenneth

    Ahhh, I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but you’ve found the crux of TULIP, the “T”. Total Depravity holds that humankind has an evil nature, and so mankind cannot help but do evil even though they are commanded not to. This is where the doctrine of Unconditional Election fits in, as the only way someone can come to Jesus is if the Holy Spirit changes their sinful nature. I guess “Calvinism” or “Reformed” theology would be compatibilist then, though this is the first I’ve heard of these two philosophies.

    • Good observations. That was the intent of the post – to point out that it is unjust for me to punish my dog for breaking my command when I don’t give him a way to keep it.

      Wesleyans hold to T as well. In the analogy we agree that the dog will make a mess if the master doesn’t open the door.

      The difference is our understanding of the L and I in Tulip – We believe that Jesus death was for all, and that grace is resistible. In the dog analogy, this means the master opens the back door and teaches the dog to go outside – he gives the dog the ability to keep his command.

      The dog has a choice to make (a choice enabled by the master) – to go outside or to stay inside and make a mess. And with this understanding it is just to punish the dog for breaking the command. Not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. :)

      • Kenneth

        I can’t speak for other Reformed Theology adherents, but for me I would say that the master does open the back door and teach the dog, but only his dog, not the neighbor’s.

        I guess my problem with Christ dying for all is that it complicates John 10, but I need to do some serious study now.

  6. Pingback: Society of Evangelical Arminians | Letting the Dog Out and Compatibilism

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