Philosophia 44 (2):531-546 (2016)

The paper points to gaps in the conceptualization of bullshit as offered by Harry Frankfurt and Jerry Cohen. I argue that one type of bullshit, obscurantism, the deliberate exercise of making one’s text opaque for the purposes of deceiving the readership in various ways, escapes Frankfurt’s radar in tracking those judgments that are unconcerned with truth, and is not given distinct status in Cohen’s framework, which pays more attention to the product of bullshit than its producers and their techniques. First, I offer on overview of the expanding literature on bullshit, with special attention given to accounts by Frankfurt and Cohen. I claim that Frankfurt’s essentialism and Cohen’s product-oriented account are not successful in exhausting our common understanding of what bullshit entails, neither separately, nor in conjunction. In particular, I claim that obscurantist bullshit pushes the envelope of the current conceptual frameworks. Second, following Boudry’s and Buekens’s work on obscurantism, I discuss the usual mechanisms utilized by obscurantists. Third, I reflect on an objection to my argument based on tweaking the permissibility for producing obscurantism by placing the production of obscurities into different contexts of writing style. I argue that there is an important normative difference between being an obscurantist and someone who merely writes obscurely, and that the distinction should bear weight regardless of constraining our capacities to tell between the two. I finish by discussing whether our understanding of obscurantist bullshit aids us in following a principle of clarity.
Keywords Bullshit  Essentialism  Obscurantism  The merely obscure  Obscuria  Clarity
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-016-9709-8
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References found in this work BETA

On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton University Press.
Must Do Better.Timothy Williamson - 2006 - In Patrick Greenough & Michael P. Lynch (eds.), Truth and Realism. Oxford University Press. pp. 278--92.

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Citations of this work BETA

Bullshit, Truth, and Reason.Eldar Sarajlic - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (3):865-879.
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