Monday, February 3, 2014

[PHI 1000] He said she said

In On Bullshit, Frankfurt distinguishes between bullshitting and lying.

According to Frankfurt, bullshit 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 how, despite video footage to the contrary, Ted Cruz says that he opposed a government shutdown:
I said we shouldn't shut the government down. (See from 2:30 to 3:45 in the video clip from The Daily Show below.)

Is this a lie or bullshit in the technical sense?


  1. Senator Ted Cruz’s statement that he opposed the shutdown of the government would be classified as a case of bullshit. When asked to determine whether politician’s political spin was classified as lying of bullshit, Frankfurt replied that it was bullshit because politicians manipulate opinion and are not interested in showcasing the facts. Frankfurt also says that, “The bullshitter doesn’t care if what he [or she] says is true or false…[for] bullshit undermines respect for the truth.” Indeed, Cruz’s political agenda was at the core of his statement, not the truth. In contrast, Frankfurt says that, “lying consists of believing you know the truth and saying something else…it’s willful.” Therefore, because Cruz had no regard for the truth when saying his statement, he is not lying he is just saying bullshit.

  2. By Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit, it is speech that doesn’t show a proper concern for the truth. But lying is thinking that one knows the truth and then saying something else. I believe that what was said by Ted Cruz is both a lie and also bullshit. Ted Cruz states that he said, “We shouldn’t shut the government down” but as we can see in the Daily Show video, many other fellow republications are saying, “Shut it down!” Of course Ted Cruz knows what the other members of the GOP are saying but still decides to blame President Obama only for the government shutdown. This is bullshit, Ted Cruz does not care whether he is telling the truth or not. He has constituents whom he can say whatever he would like to because it is what they want to hear. He has no regard for truth, we know this because there were other GOP members, for example House Speaker, John Boehner, admitting on Jay Leno that the “GOP was indeed responsible for government shutdown.” Cruz knew exactly what he was doing when he clearly was only trying to blame the President for what was said and done about the government shutdown. That is when we also know that Cruz is not only bullshitting, but also lying. Ted knew the truth about the government shutdown but instead said his lie. Like Jon Stewart said, “If Ted Cruz remembers it that way it must be true.”

  3. Lying consists in thinking that one knows the truth and then saying something else. Bullshit however doesn't have any concern for the truth. I think Ted Cruz is bullshiting. He doesn't have any concern for the truth and he only cares about getting votes and having a strong public opinion. His comment saying that he didn't shut down the government and that it was the Democrats clearly displays his motive, which was to blame and attack the Democratic party and President Obama. With his statements Ted Cruz sought to fool the American public and increase his favorability amongst voters.


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