Frankfurt and Cohen on bullshit, bullshiting, deception, lying, and concern with the truth of what one says

Pragmatics Cognition 23 (1):53-67 (2016)
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This paper addresses the following three claims that Frankfurt makes about the concept of bullshit:1. Bullshit requires the intention to deceive others.2. Bullshit does not constitute lying.3. The essence of bullshit is lack of concern with the truth of what one says.I offer counterexamples to all three claims. By way of defending my counterexamples, I examine Cohen’s distinction between bullshiting and bullshit and argue that my examples are indeed cases of bullshiting that Frankfurt’s analysis is intended to cover. My examples of bullshitters who are very concerned to say only things that are true show that Frankfurt is mistaken in claiming that the “essence” of bullshit is lack of concern with the truth of what one says.



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Thomas L. Carson
Loyola University, Chicago

Citations of this work

What is Fake News?Nikil Mukerji - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:923-946.
Bullshit in Politics Pays.Adam F. Gibbons - forthcoming - Episteme:1-21.
Bullshitting, Lying, and Indifference toward Truth.Don Fallis & Andreas Stokke - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:277-309.
Deeper into Argumentative Bullshit.Nikil Mukerji & Adriano Mannino - 2022 - Informal Logic 42 (4):439-470.

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References found in this work

On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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