Olufemi Taiwo


Tosi and Warmke discuss cases where the speaker intends for the audience to take their expressions as evidence of good moral character. However, another possibility exists that similarly exploits the social communicative architecture. A contribution to public moral discourse may also attempt to strut by demonstrating evidence of bad moral character, by purposely failing to meet the evaluative standards of its audience—or, paradigmatically for my purposes, a particular section of its actual or notional audience. I call this kind of communication vice signaling. On their face, virtue signaling and vice signaling may seem to be opposites, since the labels imply that they are signaling opposite things. But certain cases of vice signaling are in fact also cases of virtue signaling. These are the cases where someone flaunts the standards of an out-group in order to demonstrate solidarity, seriousness, or some other virtue to their in-group. In this paper I attempt to describe these cases and point out the moral risks and opportunities they present.