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Fake news as a threat to democracy

ERI 149
Wednesday 8 November 2017 (13:00-14:00)

Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series 2017/18

The Philosophy department's work in progress seminar is an opportunity for the members of staff at Birmingham to present the material they are working on to each other and to the department's postgraduate students.
The seminar meets roughly on fortnightly Wednesdays from 13:00 to 14.00 in the ERI. All welcome!


Democrats should be concerned about the rise of fake online news. As fake news, I understand topical and sensationalist information that is false by design for financial or political gain, which is disseminated via the Internet. These falsehoods have the potential to undermine citizens’ confidence in the democratic debate and their trust in their democratic government by fostering a climate of uncertainty in which political polarization thrives. Fake news can have these negative effects because they are design to attract attention by appealing to our natural cognitive biases. Because democracy has intrinsic and unique instrumental moral value, and because there are feasible countermeasures, I argue that democratic states have a moral duty to actively combat the spread and influence of fake news.

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