"Fake News" and Conceptual Ethics

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In a recent contribution to conceptual ethics, Joshua Habgood-Coote argues that philosophers should refrain from using the term “fake news,” which is commonly employed in public discussions focusing on the epistemic health of democracies. In this short discussion note, I take issue with this claim, discussing each of the three arguments advanced by Coote to support the conclusion that we should abandon this concept. First, I contend that although “fake news” is a contested concept, there is significant agreement among contemporary philosophers about its key feature. Second, I argue against the claim that “fake news” is an unnecessary concept by underlying that it is not reducible to other terms we customarily use to describe the epistemic dysfunctions of democracies. Lastly, I suggest that using the term “fake news” need not serve propagandistic aims, and that philosophers can use this concept without engaging in epistemic policing, that is, commanding their interlocutors not to believe specific news stories or sources.
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Archival date: 2019-11-12
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