Post-truth Politics and Democracy

Lying and misleading have probably always played a significant role in public debate, however, some argue that contemporary political culture in advanced democracies has taken this tendency to the extreme. As a result of new ways of campaigning, new uses of social media, and unscrupulous political actors, it seems as though the last few years have seen a diminishment of social norms regarding public assertions of truths and falsehoods, an erosion of the quality of public discourse, and a broad weakening of the democratic fabric.

The questions that arise in this context include the following: Are we really living in a post-truth era of politics? If yes, is this change as fundamental as some have claimed? What might be the root causes for this political transformation? Does it amount to a fundamental or a mere temporary degeneration of democracy? What role have hate, xenophobia, racism and sexism played in the development of this new discourse? What democratic responsibilities do citizens, political leaders and intellectuals have in the face of this development? How can philosophy, the discipline most explicitly concerned with good reasoning, help democratic citizens in this context?

Angie Hobbs, Jennifer Saul and Joshua Forstenzer work in this field.

Digital Artefacts

Wake Up! Foucault's warning on Fake News, Angie Hobbs, BBC Ideas

Politics and Post Truth: Should we celebrate post truth as a return to emotion in politics? Institute of Art and Ideas

Donald Trump: Is democracy under threat? DEBATE - BBC Newsnight

‘Racism in the 2016 Election: How does Trump get away with it?’ Jennifer Saul, Festival of Arts and Humanities

'Nationhood and Nationalism Today: A public debate'

Sample Academic Writings

Related Learning Opportunities

Taught Modules

Self and Society is a first year module which introduces some broad themes in political philosophy.

Knowledge, Justification and Doubt is a first year module introducing central ideas in the theory of knowledge.

History of Philosophical Ideas is a first year module that introduces some of the central movements and traditions in the history of philosophy from Plato onwards.

Political Philosophy is a second year module focusing on key figures in the history of political thought.

Ethics: Theoretical and Practical is a second year module which touches on the challenge of responding to the moral sceptic.

Philosophy and Revolution is a second and third year module looking at the intense philosophical debate that followed the upheaval of the French Revolution.

Workplace Learning is a third year module involving a work placement of 35-70 hours with a local organisation (voluntary or commercial sector) and developing two essays reflecting on philosophically significant aspects of your experience.