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The big shill

Simpson, RM; Michaelson, E; (2020) The big shill. Ratio , 33 (4) pp. 269-280. 10.1111/rati.12258. Green open access

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Shills are people who endorse products and companies for pay, while pretending that their endorsements are ingenuous. Here we argue that there is something objectionable about shilling that is not reducible to its bad consequences, the lack of epistemic conscientiousness it often relies upon, or to the shill's insincerity. Indeed, we take it as a premise of our inquiry that shilling can sometimes be sincere, and that its wrongfulness is not mitigated by the shill's sincerity, in cases where the shill is sincere. Our proposal is that the shill's defining characteristic is their knowingly engaging in a kind of speech that obscures a certain aspect of its social status—most commonly, by pretending to speak on their own personal behalf, while in fact speaking as an employee—and that this sort of behaviour is objectionable irrespective of any other features of the shill's conduct. This sort of obfuscation undermines a socially beneficial communicative custom, in which we conscientiously mark the distinction between personal speech and speech‐for‐hire.

Type: Article
Title: The big shill
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/rati.12258
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/rati.12258
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: bullshit, free speech, lying, sincerity, social media
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094310
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