Roberto Freda’s public lecture delves into the hypothesis that a spectrum of alternative epistemic practices and postures, including conspiracy theories, fake news, science denial, post-truth, and alternative facts, collectively pose a potentially dangerous syndrome for democracy. By creating divisions within the public along epistemological lines, these practices challenge the foundation of democratic societies, such as the existence of a shared public space and a non-partisan framework that facilitates peaceful political competition. The central argument posits that this syndrome becomes perilous when a political entrepreneur capitalizes on it to construct a new political majority, thereby establishing a novel political cleavage grounded in epistemological beliefs. To examine this hypothesis, two case studies are presented: the influence of Donald Trump in the United States and the emergence of the 5 Star Movement in Italy.
Roberto Frega is a permanent senior researcher (directeur de recherche) at the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS). He has published numerous works related to pragmatism and democracy, including the book Pragmatism and the Wide View of Democracy (2019).