Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[PL 211] "Binders full of women"

In On Bullshit, Frankfurt distinguishes between BSing and lying.

According to Frankfurt, BS is speech that doesn't show a proper concern for the truth. Lying, on the other hand, consists in thinking that one knows the truth and then saying something else.

Now, consider Romney's "binders full of women" comment.

Is it an instance of BSing or lying?


  1. I believe that this is an instance of bullshit. Romney made his comment without the appropriate knowledge about women's equality or the correct facts.

    Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" explains that the 'bullshitter' has no regard for where the truth lies. He/she only cares about how he/she appears to other people. Romney was trying to present himself as someone who was all for women's equality in the workplace. However, his comment regarding collecting "binders full of women" shows the extent of his obliviousness to the issue. According to, the percentage of women in senior positions declined from 30% to 27% during his tenure as Massachusetts' governor. The statistics completely counteract the point he was trying to make with his "binders full of women" statement.

    In addition, Romney's statement could have been phrased more eloquently. This is an instance of his statement not being "wrought with the greatest care". Saying that you have "binders full of women" goes completely against the idea of feminism. This further proves that Romney was bullshitting because he did not consider how appropriate his statements were. There was a lack of concern to the connection with the truth.

    In conclusion, Romney was bullshitting because he had no regard for what the truth was. He was only concerned with his appear in the public eye.

    -Adamu Awak

  2. Romney's "binders full of women" comment is an instance of BSing. Frankfurt stated that individuals in political spin do not care for the truth but “they care about producing a certain impression of the minds of the people who they’re addressing their speech to”. Political spin is the art of establishing a promoting a favorable relationship with the public. The people that are involved with political spin like Romney try to tell the public what they want to hear rather speak the truth. I stumbled upon an article that Benjamin Bradlee, once the executive editor of The Washington Post once stated “"I would define spin as the shaping of events to make you look better than anybody else. I think it is . . . an art form now and it gets in the way of the truth." Frankfurt stated that individuals involved in the spin are not engaged in reporting the facts which can conclude that these people aren’t reporting the truth which are the facts. When Romney stated the “binders full of women”, I instantly thought that he does not have any consideration for equal rights. He creates an atmosphere where it is simply easy to open a binder of resumes that belong to women and pick whichever one fits the job position best and have that woman join the congress team. Women are human beings and shouldn’t be referred to being inside a “binder” that is lying around on a shelf in a room. According to CNN the University of Massachusetts and the Center for Women in politics and Public Policy showed that the percentage of women in senior positions during his tenure declined his offers. The numbers were that thirty percent when Romney took office to twenty seven percent when he left. Romney did not state the truth but as everyday people, we do not know the facts until after the spin was given. Romney tried to make it seem like he cared for the women population and their job positions and tried to win their vote but actually did the opposite. Romney did not state the truth but this is an example of BSing. He did not show a concern for the truth but was more focused on trying to look good in the public view and not displaying respect for the woman population by inappropriately commenting.

    - Rufina Eframi Phi 3000c Online Class

  3. I think, based on Frankfurt's On Bullshit, that Romney was BS'ing.

    In On Bullshit, Frankfurt uses an example of a Fourth of July orator to help differentiate humbug and lying. While what the orator says may not be true about American history, his intent is simply to convince people of his patriotism. It is not his intent to deceive anyone about American history.

    Frankfurt says that humbug and bullshit are not the same. Bullshit must involve some sort of bluffing. As he says "The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he
    necessarily gets them wrong".

    It is impossible to know for sure what Romeny's full intentions were, but given the context I think we can make a good guess. It appears to me that when Romney made the comment about having 'binders full of women' he was acting in a very similar manner to the orator. His intent was not to deceive the public about how many qualified women candidates he received or whether or not he initiated the search. Rather, his intent was to make the American public believe that he intended to bring more women into leadership positions and cared about equity in pay.

    In using the statement about being given 'binders full of women', Romney is also implementing the bluffing aspect of bullshit that Frankfurt discusses.

    While it certainly could be argued that Romney was attempting to misrepresent his role in the hiring of women in his cabinet, I feel that the intent of his statements were meant to convince the public of his feelings and interests.


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