Hypocrisy in Politics

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (2022)
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The charge of hypocrisy is a peculiar kind of accusation: it is damning and ubiquitous; it is used to deny the hypocrite standing to speak; and it is levelled against a great variety of conduct. Much of the philosophical literature on hypocrisy is aimed at explaining why hypocrisy is wrongful and worthy of censure. We focus instead on the use of the accusation of hypocrisy and argue for a revisionary claim. People think that hypocrisy in politics is bad and that calling it out is good. Our novel claim is that even if hypocrisy in politics is bad (and that is a big if), calling it out is worse. We give a feminist case as to why accusations of hypocrisy are problematic. We also go further and claim that hypocrisy is a ubiquitous and perhaps even a necessary and beneficial part of political debate in liberal democracies. We also consider and reject candour as a possible alternative solution to hypocrisy in public debate. We argue that requiring people to be candid is not necessarily a good solution because it will often require one to divulge what is private when there are good reasons not to do so.

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Maggie O’Brien
York University

Citations of this work

Explaining Loss of Standing to Blame.Justin Snedegar - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy:1-29.

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References found in this work

The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
Why be rational.Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
Hypocrisy, Moral Address, and the Equal Standing of Persons.R. Jay Wallace - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (4):307-341.

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