Varieties of Insincerity

International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (1):23-40 (2006)
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Agents can be insincere in many different ways. They can utter claims they take to be false, or they can utter true claims with an intention to deceive their audiences. While both liars and virtual liars are committed truth-seekers, they are poor truth-sharers. Agents can also deceive about their reasons for holding the true beliefs that they hold: cheaters and plagiarists deceive about the justifications of their true beliefs, and they intentionally exploit our normative practices of evaluating cognitive agents. Agents can also be insincere about their commitment to truth-seeking enterprises. They may pose as serious truth-seekers and earnest truth-sharers, but they are what Frankfurt identifies as bullshitters: they do not care whether what they say is true. In this paper, I examine these different ways of deceiving others, and I assess Frankfurt’s charge that bullshit is worse than lies.



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Christine McKinnon
Trent University

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