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‘The solution to poor opinions is more opinions’: Peircean pragmatist tactics for the epistemic long game

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posted on 01.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Cathy LeggCathy Legg
Certain recent developments in mendacious manipulation of public discourse seem horrifying to the academic mind. The term post-truth newly describes a climate where ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. Allegedly, humanity is experiencing, ‘a crash in the value of truth, comparable to the collapse of a currency or a stock’. Charles Peirce’s philosophy points towards ways that we might weather this epistemic storm, and perhaps even see it as inevitable in our intellectual and political development. This paper explores Peirce’s classic “four methods of fixing belief”: ‘tenacity’ ‘authority’, a priori speculation and the ‘method of science’-the last being the only method which is both public and self-correcting. Although in the West we proudly self-conceive as living in a ‘scientific age’, I shall argue that this self-conception is premature. Rather than ‘post-truth’, many tactics of recent media are more properly seen as belonging to a ‘pre-truth’ stage of human intellectual development.

History

Title of book

Post-truth, fake news: viral modernity higher education

Chapter number

1

Pagination

43 - 58

Publisher

Springer

Place of publication

Singapore

ISBN-13

9789811080135

Language

eng

Publication classification

B1 Book chapter

Copyright notice

2018, Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

Extent

19

Editor/Contributor(s)

M Peters, S Rider, M Hyvönen, T Besley