Chris HefferOct 8, 2020
All Bullshit and Lies?
Insincerity, Irresponsibility, and the Judgment of Untruthfulness
Oxford University Press 2020
The implied answer to the titular question of All Bullshit and Lies? (Oxford University Press, 2020) is no, it’s not. In this book, subtitled Insincerity, Irresponsibility, and the Judgment of Untruthfulness, Chris Heffer argues that to analyze untruthfulness, we need a framework which goes beyond these two kinds of speech acts, bullshitting and lying. With his TRUST framework (Trust-related Untruthfulness in Situated Text), Heffer analyzes untruthfulness which includes irresponsible attitudes towards truth, like dogma and distortion, as well as manipulations of the putatively true, like withholding information or misleading. He considers not only epistemic responsibility but moral culpability, taking up real-world cases such as presidential tweets and sloganeering. The book draws on work in philosophy of language, linguistics, and epistemology, along with discourse analysis, psychology, and sociology to provide a flexible framework which can help cut through increasing epistemic partisanship, believing for the sake of affiliation rather than reason.
Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).