On the Virtues of Inhospitality: toward an Ethics of Public Reason and Critical Engagement

Philo 17 (1):99-115 (2014)
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This article seeks to re-conceptualize Rawlsian public reason as a critical tool against ideological propaganda. The article proposes that public reason, as a standard for public discourse, must be conceptualized beyond its mandate for comprehensive neutrality to additionally emphasize critique of ideologically driven ignorance and propaganda in the public realm. I connect uncritical hospitality to such ideological propaganda with Harry Frankfurt’s concept of bullshit. This paper proposes that philosophers have a unique moral obligation to engage bullshit critically in the public sphere. The obligation for such critique, I argue, represents philosophy’s essential moral component in a society committed to the protection of free speech and deliberative democracy.

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Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology


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