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April 8, 2019: Lisa Bortolotti: When the personal becomes political

Alice meets Humpty Dumpty - The Victorian Web

Seminars of Philosophy of Perception, Mind, and Language — Winter session, 2018


Lisa Bortolotti (University of Birmingham)

When the personal becomes political: the use of autobiographical stories in the Brexit debate


April 8, 2019: h. 12.30-14.30.

Room Enzo Paci, Directorate of the Department of Philosophy, Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano.


We typically take agents to have epistemic duties about how they adopt and maintain their beliefs, and this seems particularly relevant to participants in a debate. In recent political debates in the public sphere, autobiographical and personally significant stories are offered in support of a viewpoint—not just as illustrations or examples of a general fact, but as evidence for a specific viewpoint that is at the centre of the debate. Do epistemic duties extend to our use of such stories? Using social media debates on Brexit as a case study, I illustrate some of the ways in which people use personal stories to support their political positions. When stories are used as the main source of evidence for a viewpoint that is being debated, a number of interesting issues in the ethics of belief emerge about their use. In the end, I discuss a number of strategies that may help improve the quality of public debates, highlighting their potential costs and benefits.


The Lecture will be held in English.
Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend.

08 April 2019
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