Stop Talking about Fake News!


Authors
Joshua Habgood-Coote
Bristol University
Abstract
Since 2016, there has been an explosion of academic work and journalism that fixes its subject matter using the terms ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’. In this paper, I argue that this terminology is not up to scratch, and that academics and journalists ought to completely stop using the terms ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’. I set out three arguments for abandonment. First, that ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ do not have stable public meanings, entailing that they are either nonsense, context-sensitive, or contested. Secondly, that these terms are unnecessary, because we already have a rich vocabulary for thinking about epistemic dysfunction. Thirdly, I observe that ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ have propagandistic uses, meaning that using them legitimates anti-democratic propaganda, and runs the risk of smuggling bad ideology into conversations.
Keywords fake news  post-truth  applied philosophy of language
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DOI 10.1080/0020174X.2018.1508363
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Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
The Problem of Fake News.M. R. X. Dentith - 2016 - Public Reason 8 (1-2):65-79.
Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.

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