Bullshit as a practical strategy for self‐deceptive narrators

Philosophical Forum 53 (3):195–206 (2022)
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This paper argues that bullshit is a practical resource for self-deceiving individuals, or those who merely prefer to avoid self-examination, insofar as it is able to provide a mask for poor doxastic hygiene. While self-deception and bullshit are distinct phenomena, and bullshit does not cause self-deception, bullshit disrupts the capacity to interrogate the motivational biasses that fuel deception. The communicative misdirection engaged in by ordinary social bullshitters is applied reflexively by the self-deceiver to distort, evade, and obfuscate the self-deceiver's self-accounting. This discussion presupposes a broadly narrative approach to self-awareness and discusses how a motivated susceptibility to bullshit offers an explanation how our reports about ourselves can be frequently at odds with reality, and suggests that a complacency about rational validation of belief outside of self-certainty, i.e., the prevalence of bullshit, is even more of a threat than Frankfurt thought it to be.

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Leslie A. Howe
University of Saskatchewan

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References found in this work

On Bullshit.Harry Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Self-Deception Unmasked.Alfred R. Mele - 2001 - Princeton University Press.
Self-Deception as Pretense.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):231 - 258.
Self Deception.Herbert Fingarette - 1969 - Philosophy 45 (171):72-73.

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