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In the last two decades, a robust consensus has emerged among philosophers of science, whereby political, ethical, or social values must play some role in scientific inquiry, and that the ‘value-free ideal’ is thus a misguided conception of science. However, the question of how to distinguish, in a principled way, which values may legitimately influence science remains. This question, which has been dubbed the ‘new demarcation problem,’ has until recently received comparatively less attention from philosophers of science. In this paper, I appeal to Rawls’s theory of justice (1971) on the basis of which I defend a Rawlsian solution to the new demarcation problem. As I argue, the Rawlsian solution places plausible constraints on which values ought to influence scientific inquiry, and, moreover, can be fruitfully applied to concrete cases to determine how the conflicting interests of stakeholders should be balanced. After considering and responding to the objection that Rawls’s theory of justice applies only to the “basic structure” of society, I compare the Rawlsian solution to some other approaches to the new demarcation problem, especially those that emphasize democratic criteria.
The topic of fake news has received increased attention from philosophers since the term became a favorite of politicians. Notably missing from the conversation, however, is a discussion of fake news and conspiracy theory media as a market. This paper will take as its starting point the account of noxious markets put forward by Debra Satz and will argue that there is a pro tanto moral reason to restrict the market for fake news. Specifically, we begin with Satz's argument that restricting a market may be required when (i) that market inhibits citizens from being able to stand in an equal relationship with one another, and (ii) this problem cannot be solved without such direct restrictions. Our own argument then proceeds in three parts: first, we argue that the market for fake news fits Satz's description of a noxious market; second, we argue against explanations of the proliferation of fake news that are couched in terms of ‘epistemic vice’ and likewise argue against prescribing critical thinking education as a solution to the problem; finally, we conclude that, in the absence of other solutions to mitigate the noxious effects of the fake news market, we have a pro tanto moral reason to impose restrictions on this market. At the end of the paper, we consider one proposal to regulate the fake news market, which involves making social media outlets potentially liable in civil court for damages caused by the fake news hosted on their websites.
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