Tutor: Meini Cristina
Supervisor: Piazza Tommaso
Progetto: Dialectical Obstructionism. A Study in the Ethics of Lying, Assertion and Disinformation
- Areas of Competence: epistemology; philosophy of language; ethics
-Areas of Expertise: linguistic pragmatics; epistemic norms; philosophy of norms
- Research Goal: My thesis deals with the ethics of misinformation. What are the moral and epistemic implications of lying or asserting what is not supported by evidence? While the moral wrongness of lying is typically associated with deception, several instances of lies in publich speech are clearly not intended to deceive. Heavy-handed propaganda, such as the one produced by the Kremlin, is contradicted by publicly available and obvious evidence. Polarization over matters of fact (such as the existence of antropogenic causes of climate change) involves agents taking a stance knowing very well that the opposite political side will not be persuaded. Why speakers assert what is false if they do not intend to cause belief?
My inquiry tackles first the ethics of lying, by showing that a full account of the essential and distinctive wrongness of lying can only be made by looking at how lying necessarily impairs our collective epistemic agency, specifically by preventing certain issues from entering the discourse context. This compels us to reconsider the consider the content and the source of the ethics of assertion. We indeed ought to assert what is true (or at least what is supported by evidence) but not just because we ought to be truthful in exchanging information or because of conventions, but also and primarily because we ought to be respectful of our collective epistemic agency. This amongst other things, points towards a substantial difference between the kind of warrant provided by an assertion compared to that of other speech acts - such as promises. Finally, the framework I develop is applied to analyze phenomena of public speech, such as fake-news. It is the opinion of many authors that fake-news are instances of assertion which are not aimed at conveying the truth, nor at concealing it. My account of the ethics of lying and assertion allows us to understand their deep moral significance. In summary, my thesis applies the tools of analytic philosophy (linguistic semantics and pragmatics) in order to provide a new ethical account of public communication. This account enables us to provide new evaluations to instances of public speech, and also possibly to search for explanations of this communicative acts tied to their moral and epistemic significance.
February 2023-Ongoing: Visiting Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Universidad de Barcelona, LOGOS Research Group, under the supervision of Neri Marsili.
February 2023: Speaker and Organizer at the workshop "Disinformazione e Cambiamento Climatico", University of Pavia (part of the University 4 EU initiative). Talk: "Skepticism on climate change as a tool of political delegitimazion".
December 2022: Speaker at the University of Pavia analytic philosophy seminar. Talk: "Dialectical Obstructionism. A New Perspective on Propaganda and Public Debate".
October 2021-June 2022: Visiting Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Northwestern University (IL, USA). under the supervision of Sanford Goldberg.
February 2022: Commentator (APA Central Meeting) on Yarran Hominh "Hermenutical Knowledge and Social Injustice"
2018-2020: Master of Arts in Philosophy, University of Pavia. Final thesis "Constitutive Norms of Assertion. An Alternative to Williamson's Proposal",110/110 cum Laude. Supervised by prof. Tommaso Piazza, prof. Luca Fonnesu.
2018-2020: Master of Arts in Humanities, IUSS (School of Advanced Studies), Pavia. Final thesis "Can Abstraction Expand our Knowledge? Assessing the Epistemology of Analysis from Kant to Wright",Valuation: Excellent. supervised by prof. Andrea Sereni.
2015-2018: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, University of Pavia. Final thesis "Vizi e virtù intellettuali. Prospettive tra epistemologia e morale", 110/110 cum Laude. Supervised by prof. Tommaso Piazza, prof. Luca Fonnesu
2017-2018: Erasmus study, University of Warwick (UK)
- Grants and Scholarships
2021-2022- Fondazione Enea Mattei Scholarship. Scholarship for post-graduate students, financing my period as a visiting student in the US.
2018-2020: IUSS (School of Advanced Studies, Pavia) Scholarship. Awarded yearly to a selected number of students at the University of Pavia, under condition of passing additional exams with a 28/30 GPA.
2015-2020: Fondazione Enea Mattei (Morbegno) Scholarship. The private foundation pays Ghislieri college (Pavia) full-fees to students who satisfy the requirements of 27/30 GPA, all exams grades above 24/30, all exams passed before the ending of the academic year.
2017-2018: Erasmus study (research) grant: EU funded research at the University of Warwick (UK) with the purpose of research for the BA thesis.