Democracy is not a truth machine

Think 12 (33):75-88 (2013)

Authors
Thomas R. Wells
Leiden University
Abstract
ExtractIn a democracy people are free to express their opinions and question those of others. This is an important personal freedom, and also essential to the very idea of government by discussion. But it has also been held to be instrumentally important because in open public debate true ideas will conquer false ones by their merit, and the people will see the truth for themselves. In other words, democracy has an epistemic function as a kind of truth machine. From this it follows that in a democracy there should be no dogma: no knowledge protected from public challenge and debate. Yet this whole argument is founded on embarrassing misconceptions of the nature of truth and of the working of democracy.Send article to KindleTo send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply. Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.DEMOCRACY IS NOT A TRUTH MACHINEVolume 12, Issue 33Thomas WellsDOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1477175612000309Your Kindle email address Please provide your Kindle email.@free.kindle.com@kindle.com Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Send article to Dropbox To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox. DEMOCRACY IS NOT A TRUTH MACHINEVolume 12, Issue 33Thomas WellsDOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1477175612000309Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Send article to Google Drive To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive. DEMOCRACY IS NOT A TRUTH MACHINEVolume 12, Issue 33Thomas WellsDOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1477175612000309Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Export citation.
Keywords Democracy  John Stuart Mill  Climate change  Rhetoric  Hannah Arendt  Censorship  Truth  Fake News  Science
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DOI 10.1017/s1477175612000309
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