Colloquium: Postfactualism, Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers: It´s the End of Democracy as we Know it (if we Don´t Rethink the Status of Emotions in Deliberative Theory)
- Date: Jan 24, 2017
- Time: 05:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
- Speaker: Gary S. Schaal
- Location: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
- Room: Small Conference Room
- Host: Center for the History of Emotions
- Contact: email@example.com
The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its winter semester 2016/17 colloquium.
Gary S. Schaal, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität/Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg
Postfactualism, Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers: It´s the End of Democracy as we Know it (if we Don´t Rethink the Status of Emotions in Deliberative Theory)
In spite of its empirical importance, the liberal theory of democracy lost its place at the center of the international normative discourse in the late 1980ies. Since then, deliberative theories of democracy dominate the debate and “everybody is doing deliberation” these days, as John Gastil once said. And hopes are high, especially when it comes to improving democratic legitimacy. Although they differ in many aspects, both theories share a common shortcoming: they are obsessed with rationality and mostly ignore—if not fear—the emotional side of the democratic process. Few deliberative theorists have addressed this issue—e.g. the late Iris Marion Young.
Today, many western states are facing challenging problems that call in question the functional prerequisites of both, liberal and deliberative democracy. The presentation will focus on two seemingly unconnected challenges and show in which ways they are connected and which severe dangers emerge from their interplay. The first challenge is postfactualism (think of D. Trump), the strategic unrelatedness of political statements with facts and truth. The second are distorted forms of communication in social media (think of Cass Sunstein´s theory of group polarization; filter bubbles, echo chambers, and twitter bots). Both phenomena are connected via the theory of communicative action, the importance of emotions as justification and the underlying concept of a person, especially regarding authenticity (“Wahrhaftigkeit” in German). The talk will argue that postfactualism and digitally distorted communications do not merely undermine the democratic process, but the very (theoretical and conceptual) foundations of democracy.
The presentation is based upon preliminary insights of the research project “Liberale Demokratie im Zeitalter der Digitalität”