"The Morality of Gossip.”
Cécile Fabre, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford (Remote at 9 a.m. PDT)
— Gossip is pervasive and wide-ranging. It lubricates and wrecks social relationships. Many people openly confess to loving it yet acknowledge that gossiping, while often gratifying, is, if not morally wrong, at least not quite right. Gossip has not received much attention in moral philosophy. In this paper, I argue that notwithstanding the fact that gossip often has beneficial effects, it is wrong to the extent that gossipers fail to treat gossipees as well as one another as persons. To that end, I first provide an account of the phenomenon of gossip and of its value. I then argue that two fairly standard arguments against gossip do capture some morally problematic features of gossip (to do with breach of trust and deception) but are under inclusive. The deeper underlying worry about gossip, I go on to claim, is that it amounts to a particular kind of failure to treat others - be they gossipees or gossipers - as persons.
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