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The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread

New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press (2019)

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  1. What We Talk About When We Talk About Truth: Dewey, Wittgenstein, and the Pragmatic Test.John Capps - 2021 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 29 (2):159-180.
    ABSTRACT Pragmatic theories of truth need to pass the pragmatic test: they need to make a difference. Unfortunately, defenders of the pragmatic theory have rarely applied this test. I argue that a Deweyan pragmatic account of truth passes the test by identifying the political and epistemic dangers of certain types of social networks that create a durable consensus around false beliefs. To better understand Dewey’s account of truth I propose an excursion through Wittgenstein’s later views on knowledge and certainty.
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  • Desinformação, negacionismo e a pandemia.Ernesto Perini-Santos - 2022 - Filosofia Unisinos 23 (1):1-15.
    Para qualquer tema sobre o qual não se é especialista, deve-se deferir a quem sabe mais. A deferência aos outros entra em conflito com expectativas de autonomia epistêmica e de divisão democrática do saber. Uma solução para esta tensão é ceder a estas expectativas, o que é equivalente a abandonar o conhecimento. Uma outra solução consiste em restringir seus efeitos a temas sobre os quais temos algum interesse prático. Esta proposta é instável, porque o interesse prático pode se estender a (...)
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  • Culture and Cognitive Science.Andreas De Block & Daniel Kelly - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Human behavior and thought often exhibit a familiar pattern of within group similarity and between group difference. Many of these patterns are attributed to cultural differences. For much of the history of its investigation into behavior and thought, however, cognitive science has been disproportionately focused on uncovering and explaining the more universal features of human minds—or the universal features of minds in general. -/- This entry charts out the ways in which this has changed over recent decades. It sketches the (...)
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  • Defining Fake News.Glenn Anderau - 2021 - Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):197-215.
    Fake news is a worrying phenomenon which is growing increasingly widespread, partly because of the ease with which it is disseminated online. Combating the spread of fake news requires a clear understanding of the nature of fake news. However, the use of the term in everyday language is heterogenous and has no fixed meaning. Despite increasing philosophical attention to the topic, there is no consensus on the correct definition of “fake news” within philosophy either. This paper aims to bring clarity (...)
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  • Probability Without Tears.Julia Staffel - forthcoming - Teaching Philosophy.
    This paper is about teaching probability to students of philosophy who don’t aim to do primarily formal work in their research. These students are unlikely to seek out classes about probability or formal epistemology for various reasons, for example because they don’t realize that this knowledge would be useful for them or because they are intimidated by the material. However, most areas of philosophy now contain debates that incorporate probability, and basic knowledge of it is essential even for philosophers whose (...)
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  • Fake News and Epistemic Vice: Combating a Uniquely Noxious Market.Megan Fritts & Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-22.
    The topic of fake news has received increased attention from philosophers since the term became a favorite of politicians (Habgood-Coote 2016; Dentith 2016). Notably missing from the conversation, however, is a discussion of fake news and conspiracy theory media as a market. This paper will take as its starting point the account of noxious markets put forward by Debra Satz (2010), and will argue that there is a pro tanto moral reason to restrict the market for fake news. Specifically, we (...)
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  • It Takes a Village to Trust Science: Towards a (Thoroughly) Social Approach to Public Trust in Science.Gabriele Contessa - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-26.
    In this paper, I distinguish three general approaches to public trust in science, which I call the individual approach, the semi-social approach, and the social approach, and critically examine their proposed solutions to what I call the problem of harmful distrust. I argue that, despite their differences, the individual and the semi-social approaches see the solution to the problem of harmful distrust as consisting primarily in trying to persuade individual citizens to trust science and that both approaches face two general (...)
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  • The Dynamics of Retraction in Epistemic Networks.Travis LaCroix, Anders Geil & Cailin O’Connor - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (3):415-438.
    Sometimes retracted or refuted scientific information is used and propagated long after it is understood to be misleading. Likewise, retracted news items may spread and persist, despite being publi...
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  • Fake News, Conceptual Engineering, and Linguistic Resistance: Reply to Pepp, Michaelson and Sterken, and Brown.Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):488-516.
    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 (...)
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  • Towards a Critical Social Epistemology for Social Media.Joshua Habgood-Coote - manuscript
    What are the proper epistemic aims of social media sites? A great deal of social media critique is in the grips of an Epistemic Apocalypse narrative, which claims that the technologies associated with social media have catastrophically undermined our traditional knowledge-generating practices, and that the remedy is to recreate our pre-catastrophe practices as closely as possible. This narrative relies on a number of questionable assumptions, and problematically narrows the imaginative possibilities for redesigning social media. Our goal in this paper is (...)
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  • Powerful Deceivers and Public Reason Liberalism: An Argument for Externalization.Sean Donahue - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-18.
    Public reason liberals claim that legitimate rules must be justifiable to diverse perspectives. This Public Justification Principle threatens that failing to justify rules to reprehensible agents makes them illegitimate. Although public reason liberals have replies to this objection, they cannot avoid the challenge of powerful deceivers. Powerful deceivers trick people who are purportedly owed public justification into considering otherwise good rules unjustified. Avoiding this challenge requires discounting some failures of justification according to what caused people’s beliefs. I offer a conception (...)
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  • The Less Said The Better: Dewey, Neurath, and Mid-Century Theories of Truth.John Capps - 2022 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 104 (1):164-191.
    John Dewey’s theory of truth is widely viewed as proposing to substitute “warranted assertibility” for “truth,” a proposal that has faced serious objections since the late 1930s. By examining Dewey’s theory in its historical context – and, in particular, by drawing parallels with Otto Neurath’s concurrent attempts to develop a non-correspondence, non-formal theory of truth – I aim to shed light on Dewey’s underlying objectives. Dewey and Neurath were well-known to each other and, as their writing and correspondence make clear, (...)
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  • Skepticism and the Digital Information Environment.Matthew Carlson - 2021 - SATS 22 (2):149-167.
    Deepfakes are audio, video, or still-image digital artifacts created by the use of artificial intelligence technology, as opposed to traditional means of recording. Because deepfakes can look and sound much like genuine digital recordings, they have entered the popular imagination as sources of serious epistemic problems for us, as we attempt to navigate the increasingly treacherous digital information environment of the internet. In this paper, I attempt to clarify what epistemic problems deepfakes pose and why they pose these problems, by (...)
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  • Structure-Sensitive Testimonial Norms.Benedikt T. A. Höltgen - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-23.
    Although there has been a lot of investigation into the influence of the network structure of scientific communities on the one hand and into testimonial norms on the other, a discussion of TNs that take the network structure into account has been lacking. In this paper, I introduce two TNs which are sensitive to the local network structure. According to these norms, scientists should give less weight to the results of well-connected colleagues, as compared to less connected ones. I employ (...)
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  • The Problem with Disagreement on Social Media: Moral Not Epistemic.Elizabeth Edenberg - forthcoming - In Elizabeth Edenberg & Michael Hannon (eds.), Political Epistemology. Oxford, UK:
    Intractable political disagreements threaten to fracture the common ground upon which we can build a political community. The deepening divisions in society are partly fueled by the ways social media has shaped political engagement. Social media allows us to sort ourselves into increasingly likeminded groups, consume information from different sources, and end up in polarized and insular echo chambers. To solve this, many argue for various ways of cultivating more responsible epistemic agency. This chapter argues that this epistemic lens does (...)
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  • Conformity in Scientific Networks.James Owen Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor - 2018 - Synthese:1-22.
    Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...)
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  • Arational belief convergence.Charles Lassiter - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6329-6350.
    This model explores consensus among agents in a population in terms of two properties. The first is a probability of belief change. This value indicates how likely agents are to change their mind in interactions. The other is the size of the agents audience: the proportion of the population the agent has access to at any given time. In all instances, the agents converge on a single belief, although the agents are arational. I argue that this generates a skeptical hypothesis: (...)
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  • Optimism for Naturalized Social Metaphysics: A Reply to Hawley.Daniel Saunders - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (2):138-160.
    Metaphysics has undergone two major innovations in recent decades. First, naturalistic metaphysicians have argued that our best science provides an important source of evidence for metaphysical theories. Second, social metaphysicians have begun to explore the nature of social entities such as groups, institutions, and social categories. Surprisingly, these projects have largely kept their distance from one another. Katherine Hawley has recently argued that, unlike the natural sciences, the social sciences are not sufficiently successful to provide evidence about the metaphysical nature (...)
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  • Evolution, Cultural Evolution, and Epistemic Optimism: Alberto Acerbi. Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 272pp. ISBN: 9780198835943. Hugo Mercier. Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 384pp. ISBN: 9780691178707. [REVIEW]Andrew Buskell - 2021 - Acta Biotheoretica 69 (2):173-183.
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  • Theory and Observation in Science.Jim Bogen - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Scientists obtain a great deal of the evidence they use by observingnatural and experimentally generated objects and effects. Much of thestandard philosophical literature on this subject comes from20th century logical positivists and empiricists, theirfollowers, and critics who embraced their issues and accepted some oftheir assumptions even as they objected to specific views. Theirdiscussions of observational evidence tend to focus on epistemologicalquestions about its role in theory testing. This entry follows theirlead even though observational evidence also plays important andphilosophically interesting roles (...)
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  • How Should We Promote Transient Diversity in Science?Jingyi Wu & Cailin O'Connor - manuscript
    Diversity of practice is widely recognized as crucial to scientific progress. If all scientists perform the same tests in their research, they might miss important insights that other tests would yield. If all scientists adhere to the same theories, they might fail to explore other options which, in turn, might be superior. But the mechanisms that lead to this sort of diversity can also generate epistemic harms when scientific communities fail to reach swift consensus on successful theories. In this paper, (...)
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  • Virtues for Agents in Directed Social Networks.Mark Alfano - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8423-8442.
    In the age of the Internet, people have increased access to information along multiple dimensions. It might seem that we are on our way to an epistemic utopia in which we spend less time and effort on basic cognitive tasks while devoting more time and effort to complex deliberation. However, though there are many accurate sources on the Internet, they must be sifted from the spammers, concern trolls, practical jokers, conspiracy theorists, counterintelligence sock-puppets, and outright liars who also proliferate online. (...)
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  • How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policymakers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks.James Owen Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor & Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1157-1186.
    In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...)
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  • Scientific Polarization.Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):855-875.
    Contemporary societies are often “polarized”, in the sense that sub-groups within these societies hold stably opposing beliefs, even when there is a fact of the matter. Extant models of polarization do not capture the idea that some beliefs are true and others false. Here we present a model, based on the network epistemology framework of Bala and Goyal, 784–811 1998), in which polarization emerges even though agents gather evidence about their beliefs, and true belief yields a pay-off advantage. As we (...)
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  • Sharing (Mis) Information on Social Networking Sites. An Exploration of the Norms for Distributing Content Authored by Others.Lavinia Marin - 2021 - Ethics and Information Technology 23 (3):363-372.
    This article explores the norms that govern regular users’ acts of sharing content on social networking sites. Many debates on how to counteract misinformation on Social Networking Sites focus on the epistemic norms of testimony, implicitly assuming that the users’ acts of sharing should fall under the same norms as those for posting original content. I challenge this assumption by proposing a non-epistemic interpretation of information sharing on social networking sites which I construe as infrastructures for forms of life found (...)
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  • Endogenous Epistemic Factionalization.James Owen Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor - 2020 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 25):6179-6200.
    Why do people who disagree about one subject tend to disagree about other subjects as well? In this paper, we introduce a model to explore this phenomenon of ‘epistemic factionization’. Agents attempt to discover the truth about multiple propositions by testing the world and sharing evidence gathered. But agents tend to mistrust evidence shared by those who do not hold similar beliefs. This mistrust leads to the endogenous emergence of factions of agents with multiple, highly correlated, polarized beliefs.
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  • Conformity in Scientific Networks.Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7257-7278.
    Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...)
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  • Informational Quality Labeling on Social Media: In Defense of a Social Epistemology Strategy.John P. Wihbey, Matthew Kopec & Ronald Sandler - manuscript
    Social media platforms have been rapidly increasing the number of informational labels they are appending to user-generated content in order to indicate the disputed nature of messages or to provide context. The rise of this practice constitutes an important new chapter in social media governance, as companies are often choosing this new “middle way” between a laissez-faire approach and more drastic remedies such as removing or downranking content. Yet information labeling as a practice has, thus far, been mostly tactical, reactive, (...)
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  • 2006.Alvin Goldman - forthcoming - Social Epistemology. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Available From Http://Plato. Stanford. Edu/Entries/Epistemology-Social.
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  • Developing a Model of Groupstrapping: A Response to Baumgaertner and Nguyen.Kenneth Boyd - 2019 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 8 (8):32-39.
    In their responses to my article “Epistemically Pernicious Groups and the Groupstrapping Problem” (Boyd, 2018), Bert Baumgaertner (“Groupstrapping, Boostrapping, and Oops-strapping: A Reply to Boyd”) and C. Thi Nguyen (“Group-strapping, Bubble, or Echo Chamber?”) have raised interesting questions and opened lines of inquiry regarding my discussion of what I hope to be a way to help make sense of how members of groups can continue to hold beliefs that are greatly outweighed by countervailing evidence (e.g. antivaxxers, climate-change deniers, etc.). Here (...)
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  • Culture and Cognitive Science.Jesse Prinz - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.