Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Democracy, Publicity and Truth: Should we be worried about post-truth politics?

  • Prof. Simone Chambers (University of California at Irvine)
Date
12 September 2017
Time
Address
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
Room
Lorentzzaal (A.144)

A guest lecture by prof. Simone Chambers

All interested are welcome to attent this lecture, which is free and without registration.

All democracies require certain levels of publicity and transparency. This requirement contains an important epistemic presupposition. To put this presupposition in its simplest and crudest form: publicity and transparency cannot function as conduits of democratic accountability if there is no way to tell the difference between fact and fiction or no possible way to discern the truth of the matter. It is for this reason that we see a growing alarm at the prospect of moving into a post-truth politics where all news is potentially fake news, and each player claims their own alternative facts.

In her lecture, Simone Chambers investigates the relationship between truth and publicity and seeks to assess the danger of post-truth politics. She begins with a brief theoretical discussion of the relationship between truth and publicity in the public sphere and argues that democracy requires certain minimum truth claims in order to function. Then she will look at the meaning of post-truth politics and ask if this is a serious threat to the proper functioning of contemporary liberal democratic public spheres. Finally, she will take up four mechanisms of publicity (civil liberties, press and news outlets, social media, and whistleblowing/leaking) and look at the ways they both resist as well as enable post-truth politics. Although post-truth politics is a significant threat to democracy, there are still resources in many liberal democratic public spheres to push back against this trend. Nevertheless, recent developments in Turkey, Poland and Hungary indicate that vigilance and concern are warranted.

About Simone Chambers

Simone Chambers is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Irvine. She has written and published on such topics as deliberative democracy, public reason, the public sphere, secularism, rhetoric, civility and the work of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. She recently published an edited volume with Peter Nosco on navigating pluralism: Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She works with the group Participedia gathering data on deliberative and participatory initiatives around the world and has also worked as consultant for the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly. She is presently working on a project entitled An Ethics of Public Discourse which applies deliberative theory to the broad and informal public sphere using a system approach.

About the organizers

This lecture is a combined effort of:

  • The profile area Political Legitimacy, which binds together researchers from four Leiden University faculties by organizing lectures and conferences, as well as initiating innovative interdisciplinary research projects into a range of topics related to political legitimacy.
  • The Center for Political Philosophy, which is the result of a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University.

For further questions please contact dr. Geerten Waling and/or dr. Dorota Mokrosinska.