Communication in a Post Truth Age of Politics


Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 4:30pm


Wiener Auditorium, Ground Floor, Taubman Building, HKS

Christopher RobichaudChristopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School
and Jason Stanley, Rutgers University

About the Seminar
Some on the right claim that the mainstream media is ideologically biased. This bias justifies ideological reporting on outlets such as Fox News to “counterbalance” perceived liberal bias. What emerges from this “balanced,” if not fair, approach is a public sphere in which no claim is taken by viewers as intended to express truth only bias one way or another. When audiences don’t expect truth, they may not hold candidates responsible for falsehoods. In the current presidential campaigns, numerous false assertions have been made with little political cost. In most philosophical and common sense understandings of communication, listeners trust speakers to be intending to speak the truth. This talk will consider how communication in the public sphere functions when truthfulness and trust have broken down.

About the Speakers
Christopher Robichaud, lecturer in ethics and public policy, received his doctorate in philosophy from MIT. He has taught at Harvard Kennedy School since 2006. His work focuses on areas in moral philosophy, political philosophy, and social epistemology. Currently, his research interests include exploring the concept of atonement as it relates to public actors and governments, and examining the value that truth, knowledge, and understanding have in democracies. He is dedicated to bringing philosophical ideas to a wider audience, and pursues this goal by looking at issues in moral and political philosophy that arise in pop culture stories, especially superhero narratives. His articles can be found in the published and forthcoming volumes Superheroes and Philosophy, Supervillains and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy, Iron Man and Philosophy, X-Men and Philosophy, Spider-Man and Philosophy, Superman and Philosophy, Watchmen and Philosophy, The Avengers and Philosophy, Heroes and Philosophy, True Blood and Philosophy, and Game of Thrones and Philosophy. He has previously taught philosophy courses at Texas A&M University, the University of Vermont in Burlington, and Tufts University. 

Jason Stanley specializes in the philosophy of language, philosophy logic, epistemology, and early analytic philosophy. While he works principally in philosophy of language and epistemology, he also works on the history of analytic philosophy, metaphysics, and philosophical logic. He is the author of Know How (Oxford University Press, 2011), Knowledge and Practical Interests, (Oxford University Press, 2005), and Language in Context: Selected Essays, (Oxford University Press, 2007). He holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Stony Brook and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.