A post-factual society


  • Patrícia Fernandes University of Minho




Post-truth, liberal democracies, illiberalism, authoritarianism


In 2016 Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” as its international word of the year, and in the last years our vocabulary has enlarged with words and expressions such as alternative facts, disinformation, misinformation, fake news, etc.. Media and social media have undertaken factcheck mechanisms, and several academics have engaged in research on conspiracy theories. One seems to live in a post-factual society, with crucial implications concerning our democratic regimes. This paper aims to address this problem, adopting a philosophic-political approach. Firstly, I consider the emergence of Modernity and its relation to scientific revolutions and the inception of science as a vital arrangement of this historical period. For two centuries we had a strong consensus on the value of science as a tool to describe, understand and control nature and reality – and the notion of fact was central to that consensus. Furthermore, liberal democracy was developed from the conviction that, albeit our different opinions concerning political values, one’s discussion would be confined by facts that were not disputable. That old world seems to have disappeared as a new period has emerged since the 1960s, usually designated as postmodernity. Therefore, secondly, I address the rise of the postmodern period. Obsessed with language and identity, postmodernity has gradually made the ideas of truth and fact vulnerable – even obsolescent. Which consequences result in Western societies and liberal democracies? May democracies survive the assault on truth, science, and the very idea of fact? Or are we condemned to the next stage of government, according to Plato: authoritarianism?


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Fernandes, P. (2022). A post-factual society. UNIO – EU Law Journal, 8(1), 4–13. https://doi.org/10.21814/unio.8.1.4524