Fake news, conceptual engineering, and linguistic resistance: reply to Pepp, Michaelson and Sterken, and Brown

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):488-516 (2022)
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ABSTRACT In Habgood-Coote : 1033–1065) I argued that we should abandon ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’, on the grounds that these terms do not have stable public meanings, are unnecessary, and function as vehicles for propaganda. Jessica Pepp, Eliot Michaelson, and Rachel Sterken and Étienne Brown : 144–154) have raised worries about my case for abandonment, recommending that we continue using ‘fake news’. In this paper, I respond to these worries. I distinguish more clearly between theoretical and political reasons for abandoning a term, assemble more evidence that ‘fake news’ is a nonsense term, and respond to the worries raised by Pepp, Michaelson and Sterken, and Brown. I close by considering the prospects for anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian conceptual engineering.

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Joshua Habgood-Coote
University of Leeds


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