Truth and academia in times of fake news, alternative facts and filter bubbles 
A pragmatist notion of critique as mediation 
in The power of pragmatism
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While scientists protest publicly against right-wing populists bending truths, humanists and social scientists are remarkably quiet. This is not surprising since constructivist relativism and poststructuralist ideas about the politics of knowledge have been widely adopted. This chapter explores the ideological conundrum facing social scientists and argues that pragmatism can provide resources for finding a way forward. By formulating specific criteria by means of which theories and truths can be compared and evaluated, pragmatist epistemology positions the academic as a social advisor or mediator. Moreover, on the basis of pragmatic democratic theory, it can be argued that politics is not only agonistic but needs a conciliatory moment to function sustainably. In this spirit, academic criticism should be understood not only as opposition but also as mediation. Rather than just opposing dominant thinking, the academic can engage in a cooperative vein, contributing to the decisions that are taken by mediating between different positions and points of view.

The power of pragmatism

Knowledge production and social inquiry

Editors: Jane Wills and Robert W. Lake


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