That we are living in a post-truth age has become a truism. By the time Oxford Dictionaries named it word of the year in November, 2016, folks in the so-called “reality-based community” had been writing about post-truth, and its alter ego “truthiness,” for years. That truthiness got its name from a comedian whose political satire became a primary news source for a generation only drives the point home. What seems true, what has the ring of truth and the backing of belief, can matter more than facts and whatever version of truth they support. As a straight-up articulation of the relationship between truth and power, the words of the Bush-administration aide who coined the phrase “reality-based community” as a dismissive brush-off to journalist Ron Suskind are worth revisiting. In response to the phrase, writes Suskind, “I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That's not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”
In this state of political and epistemological affairs, information, misinformation and disinformation play leading roles. The word information generally implies the honest communication of news and facts. Misinformation indicates the communication of news and facts that are other than accurate, without necessarily implying the deceptive intent conveyed by disinformation. While contemporary speakers use all three words to refer to bits of knowledge as free-standing objects, facts and factoids circulated on the internet by bots, humans, kleptocrats and their minions, the root word formation is a reminder that the words’ original resonances indicated education. Information and its untrusty sidekicks have educational relations at their core, the act of passing on knowledge to someone else.
PES 2024 aspires to pick up and continue the conversations about democratic education in undemocratic times fostered at the previous year’s conference, with a turn to the ways information, misinformation and disinformation function to shape those, dare we call them, realities. We especially invite papers and symposia that take up the role philosophers of education can play in dealing with not only our language and argumentation but our beliefs. We invite reflections that engage with questions such as: How do we know what we know and how can it be contested? What is the role of information technology and social media? Why is there widespread mistrust in science and scientific justification – and why should we trust science? How may psychologies of belief challenge epistemic justifications? How can we best equip schools, parents, and publics for the knowledge and information tasks that are part of healthy democratic societies around the world? And finally: What roles can philosophers of education play in these difficult times of persistent misinformation and disinformation? Are we doomed to be left “just to study” what makers of empires have done, or is there a place as “history’s actors” for us as well?
AI technologies, including large language models like ChatGPT, are coming fast — and education is one of the fields most challenged by their implications. These changes call forth a host of philosophical issues, across ethics, social equity, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. For our field, philosophy of education, the very idea of what it means to be an educated person is thrown into question. Teaching and learning are being transformed by these technologies.
This pre-conference workshop will focus on the ways that philosophy of education can shed light on the potential and the dangers of AI for education. Because this is a rapidly changing field, we are interested in papers that consider broader issues and questions that do not depend on specific issues of the moment (which might very well become moot by the time the papers appear in print). The pre-conference workshop presents a unique opportunity to engage with colleagues about your work and their work, with the goal of creating a shared intellectual conversation around the proposed theme. That is why we call these special issues “symposia” and not just a collection of individual papers.
Hotel accommodation for the night of March 6 and all meals during the March 7 workshops will be covered by the journal. Because of the time-sensitive nature of this topic, we expect an expedited path to publication after the event: Educational Theory has an option called “Early View” for electronic publication of papers before the final issue actually appears.