Paul and Gwen Leonard Ethics and Politics Lecture

Man speaking to group of people

Upcoming Leonard Ethics and Politics Lecture Events

September 29, 2017: Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan, "Epistemic Bubbles and Authoritarian Politics"

7:00 PM, Ballroom A, Joe Crowley Student Union

Contemporary U.S. political discourse is marked by "epistemic bubbles." From the viewpoint of social epistemology, an epistemic bubble can be modeled as a self-segregated sphere for the circulation of ideas, resistant to communication from outsiders. Segregation tracks lines of group identity, which, in a polarized political context, also marks sharp divisions of trust and mistrust. Anderson shall offer some models of how epistemic bubbles may operate and how they threaten democracy. One major danger of epistemic bubbles is that they can be invaded and taken over by charlatans and other liars, without containing within themselves effective means for correcting falsehoods. Hence, the group in the bubble ends up avowing false, even absurdly false, ideas. This danger is particularly acute in the context of authoritarian political strategies, which were extensively deployed in the 2016 election. Anderson shall explain how authoritarian strategies work, how they undermine the discourse of those trapped in an epistemic bubble and how democratic communication needs to be reconstructed in order to burst such bubbles.

Recent Leonard Ethics and Politics Lecture Events

March 15, 2016: Jason Stanley, Yale University, "Propaganda and the 2016 Election Campaign"

In his Republic, Plato warns that the greatest threat to liberal democracy will come in the form of a demagogue. This lecture brings one of the central questions of political philosophy to bear on the current U.S. election campaign. We find charges of demagoguery raised against one leading candidate. What exactly is the threat that demagoguery poses to democracy? Is the problem of demagoguery especially threatening this year, or has it been exaggerated? Do all candidates participate in it, or is this year somehow unique? Jason Stanley, who published one of the first editorials about Donald Trump's campaign in The New York Times, will address these questions and others about the role of propaganda in the current U.S. electoral cycle.

Sponsored by: The Department of Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Guy L. Leonard Memorial Endowment.

Archived Events