The Goodness of Gossip

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Gather round the water fountain, it’s time to dish the dirt about J. Lo and Ben, Angelina and Billy Bob, and of course, your friends and neighbors. It’s time to gossip. Come on, we know you do it. We all do it. And yet we think we shouldn’t.

All religions warn against it. The Bible lumps gossips in with “the slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty boastful, inventors of evil,” (and the list goes on) who, “though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die.” And yet despite this and a whole host of other admonitions, lips continue to flutter when the subject matter at hand is other people’s lives.

But now some philosophers are arguing that that gossip can make us good, even make us better. Who are they sleeping with?


Emrys Westacott, professor of philosophy, Alfred University

Anne Skleder, professor of psychology, Alvernia College

and Bill Zwecker, gossip columnist, Chicago Sun Times