Philosophy
Episode 144
Featuring Brandon Warmke & Justin Tosi
Philosophy
Play
Episode 144
Featuring Brandon Warmke & Justin Tosi
Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi about the phenomenon of grandstanding, which they define as “the use and abuse of moral talk for the purposes of self-promotion.” They explain why its increased prevalence in public discourse has dangerous implications for politics and society.

In Episode 144 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi about the phenomenon of grandstanding, which they define as “the use and abuse of moral talk for the purposes of self-promotion.” 

Although moral grandstanding is a spectacle most commonly associated with those on the political left, the practice of grandstanding is an entirely bipartisan phenomenon. Its increased prevalence in public discourse has dangerous implications for politics and society.

For grandstanders, it isn’t the pursuit of virtue that motivates them. They aren’t concerned with doing good; they’re concerned with looking good; they want others to think that they are morally superior, and they’re willing to go to great lengths in order to do it, including using moral talk as a tactic for punishment and intimidation.  

The irony is that grandstanders accomplish all of this by free-riding on the moral behavior and good intentions of others. They turn civil discourse into a moral arms race, weaponizing language, and silencing their enemies with threats of doxing and humiliation.

Our society is currently going through a seismic transition. Norms are being radically upended and Americans are experiencing levels of political polarization arguably unseen since at least the 1970s. If we want to make it through this period in one piece, as one nation, undivided we need to reclaim the moral high ground in our discourse. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’re in danger of losing control of our country to the darker forces of our nature, and this would not bode well for the future of our republic.

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Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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Episode Recorded on 06/30/2020

Brandon Warmke is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University. A philosopher working on moral and political issues, he is the author of over twenty academic papers on public discourse, forgiveness, and moral responsibility. Warmke has been interviewed on Big Think among other outlets; his work has been featured in The Atlantic, Scientific American, Vox, The Guardian, and HuffPost.

Justin Tosi is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas Tech University. He was previously a Junior Faculty Fellow at the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics in the McDonough School of Business, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan. He works in social, political, legal, and moral philosophy, and especially on state legitimacy, special obligations, and social morality. His work has been published in Philosophy & Public Affairs, Legal Theory, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, and other outlets. In addition to Grandstanding: The Use and Abuse of Moral Talk, he has co-authored a second book with Brandon Warmke, Why It's OK to Mind Your Own Business, that will be published as part of the Routledge series “Why It’s OK: The Ethics of How We Live.”

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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