Civic Education in the Post-Truth Era: Intellectual Virtues and the Epistemic Threats of Social Media


Etienne Brown

Publication Date

January 2019

Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

Philosophical Perspectives on Moral and Civic Education: Shaping Citizens and Their Schools


Colin Macleod & Christine Tappolet




Social epistemologists and political philosophers are increasingly worried that the epistemic environment found on online social networks is not conducive to good democratic decision-making due to the presence of epistemic bubbles, echo chambers, and misinformation. This chapter tackles this problem by defending a model of civic education focused on the acquisition of intellectual virtues. In the post-truth era, we should incite students to develop a set of four intellectual virtues that will enable them to distinguish fact from fiction: open-mindedness, intellectual caution, intellectual courage, and intellectual humility. Unlike most virtue epistemologists, however, the author does not appeal to the intrinsic value of epistemic goods such as truth or knowledge in order to justify this claim. Instead, he submits that we have properly democratic reasons to favor the teaching of such virtues to high school and college students.