Postdigital Science and Education 2 (1):113-131 (2020)

Jake Wright
University of Minnesota, Rochester
‘Fake news’ has become an increasingly common refrain in public discourse, though the term itself has several uses, at least one of which constitutes Frankfurtian bullshit. After examining what sorts of fake news appeals do and do not count as bullshit, I discuss strategies for overcoming our openness to such bullshit. I do so by drawing a parallel between openness to bullshit and naïve skepticism—one’s willingness to reject the concept of truth on unsupported or ill-considered grounds—and suggest that this parallel indicates three principles for how we ought to combat our openness to fake news and other bullshit. First, the root causes of bullshit openness are not monolithic; we should adopt anti-bullshit strategies in recognition of this fact. Second, our efforts to overcome bullshit openness should be collaborative efforts to create an environment that allows for sustained interrogation of our bullshit openness, rather than a confrontational provision of contrary evidence, despite the fact that such strategies are more time-intensive. Third, social media is unlikely to be a fertile ground on which we will make meaningful progress in the fight against bullshit because of the inherent nature of social media platforms as spaces for short, declarative, confrontational claims.
Keywords fake news  bullshit  naïve skepticism  social media  epistemology of ignorance  student relativism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2020
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton University Press.
Moral Objectivism Across the Lifespan.James R. Beebe & David Sackris - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (6):912-929.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What is Fake News?Romy Jaster & David Lanius - 2018 - Versus 2 (127):207-227.
What is Fake News?Nikil Mukerji - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:923-946.
Different Kinds and Aspects of Bullshit.Hans Maes & Katrien8 Schaubroeck - 2006 - In Hardcastle Reisch (ed.), Bullshit and Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court.
Kitsch and Bullshit.Thorsten Botz-Bornstein - 2015 - Philosophy and Literature 39 (2):305-321.
Bullshit, Truth, and Reason.Eldar Sarajlic - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (3):865-879.
What is Fake News?M. R. X. Dentith - 2018 - University of Bucharest Review (2):24-34.
Raising the Tone: Definition, Bullshit, and the Definition of Bullshit.Andrew Aberdein - 2006 - In G. Reisch & G. Hardcastle (eds.), Bullshit and Philosophy. Open Court. pp. 151-169.
Our Vision and Our Mission: Bullshit, Assertion and Belief.Ben Kotzee - 2007 - South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):163-175.
A New Take on Deceptive Advertising: Beyond Frankfurt’s Analysis of ‘BS’.Andrew Johnson - 2010 - Business and Professional Ethics Journal 29 (1-4):5-32.
What is Bullshit?John-Michael Kuczynski - 2016 - JOHN-MICHAEL KUCZYNSKI.
Fake News: A Definition.Axel Gelfert - 2018 - Informal Logic 38 (1):84-117.
H. Frankfurt, Sračka. [REVIEW]Tomas Hribek - 2008 - Filosoficky Casopis 56:291-295.


Added to PP index

Total views
462 ( #16,307 of 2,439,130 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
78 ( #8,313 of 2,439,130 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes