I've been grappling with a question that I believe is pivotal in our ever-evolving information landscape. Specifically, I'm curious about the circumstances under which values can justifiably play a role in designating something as misinformation. While pondering this, I stumbled upon a review of the book "The Misinformation Age" that got me thinking.

In this review (link provided below), the authors make a thought-provoking point about their understanding of "true beliefs" and "false beliefs." They assert that true beliefs are those that generally guide actions effectively, and conversely, false beliefs are those that tend to lead to ineffective actions. Their perspective is steeped in pragmatism, which they connect to a broader deflationary approach.

Review Link: https://www.thebsps.org/reviewofbooks/nash-on-oconnor-weatherall/

However, I find myself grappling with the implications of this perspective, especially when it comes to identifying misinformation. The reviewer points out that tying truth to concepts of "success" and "reliability" inherently introduces non-epistemic value judgments into the definition of truth. This raises concerns in a society where democratic value pluralism often leads to competing claims of "scientific truth."

The reviewer highlights that this could create ambiguity in labeling claims as "false beliefs" or "misinformation." I'm struggling to reconcile this perspective with the goal of countering misinformation and propaganda. It seems that without a theory that can distinguish between evaluative and non-evaluative claims, the effort to combat misinformation could fall short.

Moreover, the adoption of such a definition might inadvertently encourage the labeling of many claims as "false" or "alternative facts," potentially undermining the legitimate differences in values that drive certain disagreements.

I'm eager to hear your thoughts on the reviewer's critique and my question. How can we strike a balance between accounting for values while still maintaining a reliable means to identify misinformation and propaganda? Do you think there's a way to develop a framework that effectively distinguishes between evaluative and non-evaluative claims in this context?

  • Asking for thoughts of users is off-topic here, but you can ask about existing literature on the role of non-cognitive values in formulating truth and knowledge. The (non-cognitive) value-free ideal of objectivity in science and challenges to it in the existing practice are discussed by SEP. Current approaches are much influenced by Putnam's critique in The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy.
    – Conifold
    Aug 27 at 20:09
  • This is essentially the old famous yet unresolved is-ought problem emphasized explicitly by Hume where one’s position of ethics matters … Aug 28 at 0:17


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