UCL Faculty of Laws


Fake News and Echo Chambers: The Ethics of Partisan Media Consumption

13 December 2017, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Fake News

Event Information

Open to





UCL Legal Philosophy Forum


Sir Ambrose Fleming LT, Roberts Building, UCL

Organised by UCL Legal Philosophy Forum

Fake News and Echo Chambers: the Ethics of Partisan Media Consumption
Speaker: Daniel Wodak, Philosophy Department, Virginia Tech

About this talk
Most politically aligned citizens live in echo chambers. In an era of unprecedented access to diverse media, they consume the vast majority of their news from a handful of sources, and exhibit patterns of attraction to information that aligns with their partisan allegiances and aversion to information that challenges those partisan allegiances. This much has been confirmed empirically. But these patterns of ideologically partisan media consumption have attracted little attention in epistemology, ethics, or social and political philosophy. If we live in echo chambers, (why) should we escape them? After briefly discussing some alternative answers, I develop and defend an ecumenical argument for why we should all escape our echo chambers: diversifying the partisan alignment of the media we consume is rational, for each of us, in order to minimize the realistic risk of what I call ‘epistemic poverty’, analogously to how diversifying one’s financial investments is rational in order to avoid economic poverty. Given its important structural similarities to John Stuart Mill’s defense of freedom of speech, I call this the Millian case against echo chambers.

About the speaker:
Daniel Wodak completed bachelors degrees in philosophy and law at The University of Sydney before completing a PhD in Philosophy at Princeton University in 2016. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Virginia Tech. Working primarily in metaethics and philosophy of law, he has published in Philosophical Studies, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy Compass.