We are seeking contributors for a volume on truth, communication, and the public sphere. If you are interested in participating in this project, please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words, along with a brief bio, to j.hannan[at]uwinnipeg.ca , Jason Hannan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Rhetoric and Communication, University of Winnipeg, Canada

A. AIM: The proposed book, Truth in the Public Sphere, will explore the role of truth in different domains of social and political life. It will present a new set of expository essays from a variety of theoretical and philosophical perspectives. The aim is to challenge conventional thinking on truth by investigating the meaning and power of truth in different dimensions of the public sphere.

B. DESCRIPTION: Truth is a basic and primordial concept. It has long been and remains indispensible to multiple domains of thought and practice, including law, government, science, and religion. In the humanities, however, the idea of truth is commonly regarded with suspicion and cynicism. Truth is seen as an antiquated metaphysical illusion at best and an instrument of power and coercion at worst. The idea of truth therefore elicits strikingly different attitudes. For millennia, philosophers have debated the meaning and possibility of truth, proposing a range of complex theories. However, in the twentieth century, philosophers such as G. E. Moore, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Alfred Tarski have argued that truth is indefinable. In a similar vein, Donald Davidson has argued that instead of seeking to define truth, we should instead try to understand what role it plays in observable human behavior (i.e. linguistic interaction). More recently, the pragmatist philosopher Jeffrey Stout has argued that truth matters to democracy. This volume takes its cue from Davidson and Stout by exploring the role of truth in our social and political world from the perspective of communication. To this end, the volume examines the function and value of truth in four dimensions of the public sphere: 1) language and discourse, 2) ethics and justice, 3) journalism and politics, and 4) media, art, and aesthetics.

C. SCOPE, CONTENT, METHODOLOGY: The proposed volume has been divided into four parts: 1) language and discourse; 2) ethics and justice; 3) journalism and politics; and 4) media, art, aesthetics. The essays in the volume will answer questions such as the following:

  • What role does truth play in language and communication?
  • Is communication possible without a commitment to truth?
  • What role does truth play in ethics and social justice?
  • Do we live in a post-truth world?
  • What are the consequences of post-truth journalism?
  • How do media and communication professionals conceptualize truth?
  • What is the connection between truth and aesthetics?
  • How do music and art capture truth?
  • How does truth function in comedy, especially in political satire? 

E. TABLE OF CONTENTS: We are seeking contributions for each of the following sections. Please note that we are open to suggestions for other topics.

PART I: LANGUAGE & DISCOURSE, Suggested topics include:

  • Rhetoric
  • Genealogy
  • Hermeneutics
  • Deconstruction
  • Critical Theory
  • Pragmatism
  • Analytic and Post-Analytic Philosophy

PART II: ETHICS & JUSTICE, Suggested topics include:

  • Feminism, truth, and women’s emancipation
  • Postcolonialism, truth, and resistance
  • Truth in the thought and speeches of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Truth in the thought and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Jacques Ranciere, truth, and education

PART III: JOURNALISM & POLITICS, Suggested topics include:

  • Media Witnessing
  • Post-truth journalism
  • Post-truth politics
  • Wikileaks

PART IV: MEDIA, ART, AND AESTHETICS, Suggested topics include:

  • Truth in music
  • Truth in visual art (including painting, photography, and street art)
  • Truth in humor (especially satire)
  • Truth in film