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I like to teach Cohen's "Deeper Into Bullshit" alongside Frankfurt, then give students case studies where they have to argue that the case constitutes either Franfurtian BS, Cohenian BS, both, or neither.


Unfortunately no time to engage with particular question myself at the moment, but does the definition of X-porn work for inspiration porn? I did a quick ctrl-F of the paper you linked and didn't find anything on it

It seems to me that at face value, while inspiration porn is used for immediate gratification, what makes it instrumentalist in the way that would qualify it as a form of 'porn' isn't the avoidance of 'typical costs and consequences,' but the way it falsely represents and objectifies disability and people with disabilities in order to achieve that gratification.

Treading Water

This made me smile and sounds amazing. Well done.


I taught "On Bullshit" for the first time this year, and I also had an amazing experience. I paired it with Rachel Barney's "(Aristotle) On Trolling" which students also really loved. Then we segued into Mill on free speech, looking at cases of deplatforming that deprived bullshitters, trolls, or genuine assert-ers of opportunities to speak.

Animal Symbolicum

This is wonderful. But how does your definition of bullshit distinguish bullshit from lying? If I lie, am I not engaging in an activity (speaking) while not caring about its usual function (communicating what I believe to be true)?

Some Effect Will Follow

In On Truth, Frankfurt offers a brief account of the difference between lying and bullshit based in how each relates to truth.

If I remember correctly, a lie has a careful relationship to the truth, seeking to obscure it by setting up a fake "truth" to block out knowledge or recognition of what actually took place.

Bullshit, on the other hand, doesn't require a careful relationship to truth; it's a different kind of obfuscation. Again, if I remember correctly, it may involve half-truths, or mostly truth with strategic lumps of bullshit involved, to result in some further effect in the listener based on the belief, which itself doesn't need to be very precise and may be more useful if it's not.

Both manipulate people by affecting their understanding of the world, but seem to have different means and aims. Based on the preliminaries, he goes on to spell out the very serious moral questions that arise when manipulating others' understanding of the world, including when done for the sake of shabby self-interest. Guess I should pick it up again, it's very short!

Animal Symbolicum

Some Effect Will Follow: I'm not sure if your comment is a response to me, so ignore my response to you if it isn't.

I know what Frankfurt says to distinguish lying and bullshitting. But Professor Nguyen proposed a more general definition of bullshit that, as far as I can tell, doesn't distinguish between the two. If I'm right, that's reason to reject the generalization and just stick, for the time being, with Frankfurt's original definition that successfully does distinguish between the two.

Doug Plumb

You may like my "Assholes & Bullshit: A Language Problem" on Smashwords.

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