VICTR Presents: Romy Jaster

Bullshit and the Norms of Assertion

Romy Jaster (Humboldt-University, Berlin) will present at the Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research on April 12, 10:00am EDT / 14:00 UTC.

Abstract: With his seminal “On Bullshit”, Frankfurt drew attention to the fact that lies are not the only form of untruthful assertions: there is also bullshit – assertions which are characterized by a specific attitude of indifference on the bullshitter’s part. In the literature, Frankfurt is usually read as characterizing bullshit via two conditions: (1) the bullshitter is indifferent to the truth and (2) the bullshitter tries to deceive her audience about the fact that she is indifferent to the truth. In the talk, I argue that neither of the two conditions is necessary. In contrast to (1), I propose that the bullshitter’s characteristic indifference is directed, not at truth itself, but at the norms of assertion. Against (2), I draw attention to the fact that recent political communication exhibits a form of bullshit that is ostentative in the sense that the bullshitter displays her indifference toward the norms of assertion quite openly. Accepting (2) obscures this phenomenon.

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