Hypocrisy as Either Deception or Akrasia

Philosophical Forum 50 (2):269-281 (2019)
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The intuitive, folk concept of hypocrisy is not a unified moral category. While many theorists hold that all cases of hypocrisy involve some form of deception, I argue that this is not the case. Instead, I argue for a disjunctive account of hypocrisy whereby all cases of “hypocrisy” involve either the deceiving of others about the sincerity of an agent's beliefs or the lack of will to carry through with the demands of an agent's sincere beliefs. Thus, all cases of hypocrisy can be described either as cases of deception or as cases of akrasia. If this analysis correct, then I suggest further that the moral status of all instances of hypocrisy must be reduced either to the moral blameworthiness of deception or to the moral blameworthiness of akrasia. There can be no unified account of the moral wrongness of “hypocrisy” that holds across the disjunction.

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Christopher Bartel
Appalachian State University

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