The Last Refuge of Scoundrels: The Problem of Truth In A Time of Lying

Paper prepared for NOMOS and presented at the 2019 conference of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy on “Truth and Evidence” at Princeton University on Friday, September 27, 2019

Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-628, 2019

50 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019

See all articles by Bernard E. Harcourt

Bernard E. Harcourt

Columbia University; Columbia University

Date Written: July 31, 2019

Abstract

This essay addresses the problem of truth today in light of the common belief, especially among progressives, that we have entered a post-truth age, as well as of the frequent claim that our post-truth society is the fault of postmodernists and their challenge to the objectivity of truth. The essay does not resolve the strategic question whether the post-truth argument is, as a purely tactical political matter, an effective approach to respond to the onslaught of misrepresentations and lies by President Donald Trump and the New Right. Instead, it explores the post-truth argument from a more synoptic perspective regarding the age-old questions surrounding truth and illusions.


Keywords: truth, evidence, post-truth, fake news, alternative facts, truth decay, climate change, Richard Rorty, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, Nietzsche, Donald Trump, New Right, White Supremacy, epistemology, political theory, ethics, aesthetics, NOMOS

Suggested Citation

Harcourt, Bernard E., The Last Refuge of Scoundrels: The Problem of Truth In A Time of Lying (July 31, 2019). Paper prepared for NOMOS and presented at the 2019 conference of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy on “Truth and Evidence” at Princeton University on Friday, September 27, 2019 ; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-628, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3433975

Bernard E. Harcourt (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Bernard_Harcourt

Columbia University ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://polisci.columbia.edu/people/profile/1685

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