SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Epistemic Corruption and the Media
(Epistemology, )

Since 2016 there has been widespread interest in the phenomenon of "fake news", both in the public and academic sphere. A vast amount of literature has been dedicated to this phenomenon in epistemology specifically, with philosophers predominantly focusing on the characterization of the term and the various conceptual issues related to how best to understand it (Gelfert 2018, Pritchard forthcoming, Coady 2019, De Ridder 2019). However, despite the array of literature on this topic, there has been significantly less focus on the epistemic harms caused by the phenomena of fake news and how we should understand and ameliorate these harms. I argue that one such example of these harms is those that are inflicted on our intellectual character; that is, a result of the influx of fake news in the environment is that certain epistemic vices have been exacerbated and epistemic virtues suppressed. Insofar as fake news threatens our intellectual character, I argue it is epistemically corrupting, an underexplored but essential form of corruption that is vital to our understanding of the harms and wrongs of fake news (Kidd 2019, 2021). The plan for this paper is as follows. Firstly, I will clarify the notion fake news with reference to the related concept of information disorder. I will then introduce the notion of epistemic corruption, outlining the various ways that information disorder creates epistemically corrupting conditions. Resulting from these corrupting conditions is the formation of epistemic vice. I will demonstrate how information disorder leads to three distinct epistemic vices: prejudice, conspiracy thinking and epistemic akrasia, by redeploying Kidd's "five modes of corruption" - understood as the various (non-exhaustive) ways that a corrupting system can install epistemic vices in its corruptees. Finally, I conclude by examining the various ways information disorder can overcome its corruptive state, by assessing both individualistic and structural ameliorative solutions.

Chair: Lena Mudry
Time: 11:20-11:50, 11 September 2021 (Saturday)
Location: HS E.002
Remark: CHANGE. The talk is cancelled!

Daniella Meehan 
(University of Glasgow, )



Testability and Meaning deco