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"Hypocrisy, Revealing the Ugly Truth".

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Our next debate will be presented by Andrew Macklin

"Hypocrisy, Revealing the Ugly Truth".

‘During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.’
George Orwell

Madonna lip-syncing - the material girl with the immaterial voice; a war started on the lie of WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) to enrich politicians with business interests in Halliburton or Blackwater - creating war and unleashing death to make money; paedophile priests knowingly supported by the Church for decades; a state funeral attended by then-prime minister John Howard for newspaper magnate Kerry Packer, who spent his life maximising his wealth by evading tax; climate denialist ‘scientists’ whose ‘facts’ are payed for by Exxon; backpackers travelling in Burma with its heinous reputation for torture and the suppression of democracy; the Orwellian double-speak of phrases like ‘fighting for peace’ or ‘surgical bombing’ which contain dangerous contradictions; a parent buckling a child into an SUV without a thought about the consequences of their polluting actions on their child’s future (in ecological philosophy called ‘intergenerational ethics’) or a government that backs down from equitable taxes for mining magnates who, snouts in the trough of greed, fight tooth and nail to stop any sharing of wealth.

Hypocrisy is the one word we all use to accuse others of transgressing a moral position often to further selfish ends. Interestingly we always accuse hypocrites from our own moral perspective. Our cry of indignation often occurs because we realise that hypocrites are foregrounding their interests over the society we live in, and this is detrimental to us all. But we are all hypocrites and in the real world hypocrisy is often necessary to get things done. So how do we distinguish between a legitimate compromise and a sell-out, economic necessity and greed, idealism and fanaticism or hypocrisy and integrity? Hypocrisy is the enactment of double standards or deceiving and using others to further selfish ends – money, sex, power, control, reputation etc. Hypocrisy is important in moral philosophy because hypocrites are always probing the moral landscape for ethical weaknesses, destroying our trust in others and challenging our understanding of truth or reality for ulterior motives we are unaware of. Hypocrisy often leads to pervasive corruption that challenges the functioning of society or the very system of democracy. Hypocrisy for me as an ecological philosopher is at the dark heart of this current era of ecocide. This lecture is informed by ideas from Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; and in the 20th century by a number of thinkers including Hannah Arendt, George Orwell and Michel Foucault. I will define hypocrisy and unpack some philosophical problems, I will discuss the knowing hypocrisy of the criminal hypocrite, I will discuss politics, Neo-Liberal capitalism and the rise of late-20th century economic hypocrisy and also the unknowing hypocrisy of everyday life with its myriad justifications. Finally, using ideas from Aristotle and Emmanuel Kant, I will suggest how we can evaluate hypocrisy and oppose it by developing a moral code that fluidly engages with and is strengthened by the messy world of contingent and competing claims to right and wrong.

Andrew Macklin is an academic in the Architecture Degree program at the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW and a member of Philosophers Corner. He teaches architectural design in tandem with ecological ethics. He has a deep interest in why humans are destroying the earth (e.g. species extinction, global warming, biopiracy) and hence human-nature relationships (e.g. interworld ethics or earth justice). Intellectually and in his teaching and writing he cross-pollinates his expertise in the philosophy of phenomenology (e.g. Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty) with ecological philosophy (e.g. Peter Kropotkin, James Lovelock, David Abram) and political ecology.

On Wednesday, August 11th??
Time: 7.15 for 7.30pm
Place: Ariel Booksellers, 42 Oxford Street, Paddington
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