Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


UCL IAS Lies: Post-Truth Politics and the Rise of "Bullshit"

30 April 2018, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Post-Truth Politics and the Rise of Bullshit.jpg

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing

As part of this year's research theme on 'Lies', the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies is delighted to welcome Adrian Blau from King's College London for this talk.  To what extent are we experiencing what some people call "post-truth politics"? Several commentators have approached this question by using Harry Frankfurt's notion of "bullshit" - a particular kind of nonsense, which Frankfurt characterises as phoniness, indifference to truth. G.A. Cohen has discussed a different kind of bullshit: unclarifiable unclarity, i.e. something which is not clear and cannot be made clear. In this talk, Blau will show that there are at least three further types of bullshit, and that each of the five types of bullshit violates core principles of rationality. He will then relate each type of bullshit to different aspects of post-truth politics.


Adrian Blau is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Political Economy and Director of Education at King's College London. He works on democratic theory and practice, including deliberative democracy, deliberative policy-making, electoral systems and party systems; corruption, Hobbes, history of political thought, and research methods. Dr Blau recently published Methods in Analytical Political Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and he is currently writing two books: Hobbes's Failed Science of Politics and Ethics, and First-Past-The-Post: Is It Fair? Does It Work?

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