Over the summer I posted about my co-authored paper on Bragging. I’m happy to report that the paper has been accepted for publication by Thought: A Journal of Philosophy. This is the first paper to come out of the Intellectual Humility grant my research team and I received.

The paper supplies a conceptual analysis of the speech act of bragging. Bragging (or boasting), we claim, is a kind of asserting. When you brag, you assert something, but you also aim to impress your audience with something about yourself. Adopting a Gricean framework of defining speech acts based on speakers’ intentions, we define bragging this way. We think that a speaker brags iff she intends by making an utterance:

  1. to produce in the addressee the belief that p,
  2. that the addressee should recognize the speaker’s intention (1),
  3. that the addressee should base her belief that p on her recognition of (1), and
  4. that the addressee’s belief that p lead her to be impressed with the speaker.

humble-brag-online-facebook-lg-optimus-g-pro-ecards-someecardsWe then offer a few remarks on the recent neologism ‘humblebrag.’ which is brag that tries to hide with corresponding self-deprecation. A good example is the tweet by @johnmoe, “The fact that Wikipedia lists me as a notable alumnus of my college speaks ill of the reliability of crowd sourced information.”

Finally, we suggest instead a three-way taxonomy of brags: (a) brazen brags, where the speaker intends the addressee to recognize that she’s trying to impress, (b) humblebrags, where the speaker intends the addressee to fail to recognize that she’s trying to impress, and (c) indifferent brags, where the speaker doesn’t intend one way or the other.