PHL 101 Paper 3

PHL 101 Paper 3 - Evan Vandegriff PHL101 Essay 3 Every day,...

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Evan Vandegriff PHL101 Essay 3 Every day, we can see clear examples of both bullshit and lying and the varying consequences of both these actions. But what is bullshit, exactly? What are the characteristics of bullshit? What is the truth? Can bullshit be harmful? The purpose of this paper is to answer these questions while at the same time showing that bullshit can definitely sometimes be harmful. By examining: the meaning of the word “bullshit” as defined by Harry Frankfurt, why Frankfurt thinks that bullshit is harmful, and a clearly defended original argument, the possibility of harm from bullshitting will be shown. In Harry Frankfurt’s small book “On Bullshit”, he distinguishes his meaning of bullshit from Max Blackwell’s while at the same time showing us numerous ways that it can be harmful. The essence of bullshit centers on the idea that bullshitters have no concern for the truth. However, real bullshit extends beyond this center idea because we realize that bullshitters assign no value to truth. This is so because while bullshitters know the truth, they neither convey it accurately nor completely inaccurately by lying. They just make up whatever they want to make themselves look better. To any person who values the truth in any capacity, bullshit can completely throw them for a loop because they find it hard to believe people would just completely disregard the truth. Bullshit differs from lying because liars recognize the truth and just choose to deceive because they believe something different or want others to believe something different. In clarification, liars will state the opposite of the truth because they believe in something that they believe requires lying. For example, a witness might lie on the stand in order to protect someone they love. They know the truth and respect it, but lie in order to protect the person. Therefore, a further explanation is that bullshitting generally serves to
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misrepresent the truth but falls short of lying. The truth and often the bullshitters themselves are misrepresented because they do not care what their audience believes is the truth, only about how the person feels about the bullshitter or a certain situation. For example, if a politician tells the world that they love all children, they do not care if everyone knows the truth about whether they love children or not. It doesn’t matter if it is the truth or not because they only care that everyone believes they are a good, loving type of person either way. Frankfurt believes that bullshitting can be very harmful and more harmful then lying. He states: “Both in lying and in telling the truth people are guided by their beliefs concerning the way things are. These guide them as they endeavor either to describe the world correctly or to describe it deceitfully. For this reason, telling lies does not tend to unfit a person for telling the truth in the same
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This note was uploaded on 03/05/2008 for the course PHL 101 taught by Professor Braun during the Spring '08 term at Rochester.

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PHL 101 Paper 3 - Evan Vandegriff PHL101 Essay 3 Every day,...

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