The Critical Realism Network Webinar Series focuses on questions of philosophy, morality, ethics, values, and how the social sciences can contribute to these topics.
Abstract: Critical realism has always been concerned with philosophical questions of truth and sociological questions of critique (one of the reasons it is called critical realism). These topics are particularly pertinent at the moment. Recently, in an article called “Entertainment Politics as a Modernist Project in a Baudrillard World” I suggested that from Jon Stuart to Samantha Bee, late night comedians are countering offenses against truth in politics in a way that escapes the positivist pose of “cool style Journalism.”
With the Trump administration, the very concept of truth is arguably in crisis. While the political level, many macro-social factors, like news commodification and fragmentation; ideological polarization; and the role of so-called “dark money”, are certain involved, at bottom, however, I would argue that we are still staggering from the way in which our shared concept of truth, still basically positivist in nature, has been destabilized.
In this webinar I will argue that truth is a democratic value and without a shared commitment to truth as a value across rival perspectives, persuasive dialogue breaks down. Deliberative democracy collapses into power politics, such as our situation in the U.S. I will lay out some of the matters at issue concerning deliberative democracy and the importance of truth to it, and explore how the disciplines of communication and sociology have and have not dealt with truth, and how professional journalism has sought to evade truth in favor of a norm of objectivity interpreted as “balance”. But I will also cover the academic destabilization of truth determination as a value neutral, foundationalist enterprise and how that instability was deployed first by the political left in the hermeneutics of suspicion but now more prominently by the political right. Along the way, I will speak of news fragmentation, social judgment theory, rhetoric, and the ethics of belief.
As Donald Trump would say, it will be great.