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What to Do with Post-Truth

Nordic Wittgenstein Review. 2019;8 DOI 10.15845/nwr.v8i0.3502


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Nordic Wittgenstein Review

ISSN: 2194-6825 (Print); 2242-248X (Online)

Publisher: Nordic Wittgenstein Society

LCC Subject Category: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Philosophy (General)

Country of publisher: Finland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Lorna Finlayson (University of Essex)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 40 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Recent political developments have made the notion of 'post-truth' ubiquitous.  Along with associated terms such as 'fake news' and 'alternative facts', it appears with regularity in coverage of and commentary on Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, and the role – relative to these phenomena – of a half-despised, half-feared creature known as 'the public'.  It has become commonplace to assert that we now inhabit, or are entering, a post-truth world.   In this paper, I issue a sceptical challenge against the distinctiveness and utility of the notion of post-truth. I argue, first, that the term fails to capture anything that is both real and novel. Moreover, post-truth discourse often has a not-fully-explicit political force and function: to ‘irrationalise’ political disaffection and to signal loyalty to a ‘pre-post-truth’ political status quo. The central insight of the speech act theory of J. L. Austin and others – that saying is always also doing – is as indispensable for understanding the significance of much of what is labelled ‘post-truth’, I’ll argue, as it is for understanding the significance of that very act of labelling. Keywords: post-truth, speech acts, Trump, brexit, Austin