Prof. Stan Katz
September 28, 2022, 5:00 PM EDT

FPUL Small Talk: ‘The Trouble with Truth,’ featuring Stanley Katz

“Truth” is now a quaint term in American (and many other) societies. It has frequently been remarked that we live in a “post-truth” age, one characterized by “fake news” and “alternative facts.” Scholars and news commentators now distinguish between “beliefs” and facts, and warn us that public opinion is guided more by belief than by fact. 

Americans live in a world in which one of the two major political parties has as its platform a demonstrable lie – that its leader won the 2020 presidential election. What does a “lie” mean in this context? What is the “truth”? Does it matter? American constitutional lawyers used to argue that the answer to bad speech was more speech, but how does more speech matter in a post-truth age, or information in a disinformation age. 

Stanley N. Katz is president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies, the leading organization in humanistic scholarship and education in the United States. His recent research focuses upon the relationship of civil society and constitutionalism to democracy, and upon the relationship of the United States to the international human rights regime. Formerly Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University, Katz is a leading expert on American legal and constitutional history, and on philanthropy and non-profit institutions.

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