Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Paul Hurley

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2021 Samuel B Fiske


While fake news has become a hot political issue in the past years, it presents novel and apolitical philosophical problems that are often neglected. This paper explores the epistemic and moral wrong of fake news, drawing on work from Immanuel Kant, Seana Shiffrin, and Miranda Fricker to explain exactly why fake news is so problematic. I argue that creating and sharing fake news violates Kant’s Categorical Imperative because it cannot be willed into a universal law and because it fails to respect rational agents as ends in themselves. I also argue that fake news presents distinct epistemic harms as it leads us away from accurate and reliable information. These harms are distinct, but closely related. I reason that examining the harms of fake news ultimately reveals a great deal about what we owe each other as interlocutors. The problems of fake news demonstrate that both as speakers and as listeners, we seem to be bound by some obligations to treat each other with dignity. Altogether, I conclude that we are not hopeless. Fake news challenges how we reason with each other, but it is not fatal to the communication that binds us together. So long as each person approaches speech with the respect it commands, we can carefully avoid the harms of fake news and overcome the endemic of misinformation that plagues us.