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2021 Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Politics and Gender

Truth, Post-Truth and Truthfulness

Political Theory
Vittorio Bufacchi
University College Cork
Vittorio Bufacchi
University College Cork

Given the elevated prominence of Post-Truth and Fake-News in today’s political discourse, one could be forgiven for thinking that these are new, original concepts, symptoms of an unprecedented, hazardous, current political pandemic. This paper rejects two standard claims about Post-Truth: that we are faced with a new political phenomenon, and that truth and Post-Truth constitute a binary dichotomy. By showing that Truth and Post-Truth share the same genesis, this paper will submit the idea of a Consensus Theory of Post-Truth.
A deflationary approach to truth starts from the assumption that too often we succumb to a tendency to use ‘true’ in cases when it is not required or necessary, being the wrong dimension of evaluation for our claims, arguments, or evidence. I will argue that it is only by deflating our idea of truth that we are in a position to reinforce the connection between truthfulness and the practical business of inquiry. I will be referring to the works of Cicero (On Duties), Bernard Williams (Truth and Truthfulness) and Cheryl Misak (Truth, Politics, Morality: Pragmatism and Deliberation) to argue that what is best for a community of inquirers is the best that inquiry can do, and in the political domain, this takes the form of deliberation, agreement, debate, and reflection: these, rather than truth, are the only valid dimensions of political evaluation.
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