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Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3$
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Jonathan L. Kvanvig

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199603213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603213.001.0001

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A Puzzle about Hypocrisy

A Puzzle about Hypocrisy

Chapter:
(p.89) 6 A Puzzle about Hypocrisy
Source:
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3
Author(s):

Frances Howard‐Snyder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603213.003.0006

This chapter defines hypocrisy as moral inconsistency where the subject does x, while making some verbal or behavioral expression of the claim that x is wrong. It considers purported counterexamples and argues that the original definition survives most of these, although it may need a little tinkering. The second half deals with the concern that moral realism has a difficult time explaining why hypocrisy is so objectionable, while constructivist moral theories can more easily explain this. In response the author argues that, even if realism is true, the hypocrite is guilty of the special vice of knowingly doing what is wrong. Either she is acting wrongly or she is wrongly condemning or blaming others or placing unnecessary burdens on them. This is true even (or maybe especially) in cases where it isn't clear what the right action is. If we think of hypocrisy as a vice (rather than a wrong action) this seems to illuminate its special sort of badness.

Keywords:   hypocrisy, moral realism, vice, inconsistency, constructivism

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