Moral criticism, hypocrisy, and pragmatics
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A good chunk of the recent discussion of hypocrisy concerned the hypocritical “moral address” where, in the simplest case, a person criticises another for ϕ-ing having engaged in ϕ-ing himself, and where the critic’s reasons are overtly moral. The debate has conceptual and normative sides to it. We ask both what hypocrisy is, and why it is wrong. In this paper I focus on the conceptual explication of hypocrisy by examining the pragmatic features of the situation where accusations of hypocrisy are made. After rejecting several extant views, I defend the idea that moral criticisms are best understood as moves in an agonistic or hostile conversation, and that charges of hypocrisy are attempts to prevent the hypocrite from gaining an upper hand in a situation of conflict. I finish by linking this idea to frame-theoretic analysis and evolutionary psychology. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.