On Truth in Speech

What we say matters. It has weight, and that weight grows exponentially as social influence grows. Due to this, it is all the more important that what is spoken is uttered with the greatest care. If what one says is a lie, or just generally bullshits, then what has been said is of little use to anyone in society. Outside of course the value that speech has had for the speaker.

While lying is bad in itself, the act of bullshitting is far worse. Why? Harry Frankurt spends writes in detail on the topic in his book “One Bullshit” (2005). In short, when one bullshits one is not particularly worried about the truth condition of what is being said. That what is said may be true or false is completely irrelevant the the speaker of bullshit. It is not day to day conversation on the weather or the recent quality of sport that the bullshitter provides concern to. In those conversations the weight, and value, of the conversation, and the facts therein, is very low. But where bullshit is used by individual in high places of power, where what they speak on to the people is weighty, there should be a great concern.

When someone like this, say the U.K. Prime Minister, or the U.S. President, bullshits, it means one of two things. One: that individual does not know what the truth of the matter is but feels compelled to speak anyway. Two: the person does not care what the truth is and speaks anyway. Or really three: the individual does not know, and does not care, what the truth is and is using speech to manipulate the people. When the later is the case it may well indicate some malicious indent. Or, at the very least, a total lack of respect for truth and the people being spoken to. Which would be the body politic, the very people who grant power to the elected official.

Truth, speaking truth, and having respect for it, and the body politic, are paramount for individuals in power to have if they are to serve the betterment of society. Those that show a disregard for truth, and by that fact a disregard for the body politic, should not be in power for it is likely that individual is acting for his or her own good. In such a case the body politic has the duty to remove that person from power.

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