Monday, May 7, 2018

Stanley Fish’s ‘...Mother...’ article

This is Section 4 of a project titled “astute reasoning and ‘fake news’.”

When I decided to do a commentary on Stanley Fish’s NYTimes article “‘Transparency’ Is the Mother of Fake News,” I indicated in a “comment” there the importance of Habermas, which linked to this posting’s first version, in terms of a short description of Habermas’s career and relevant sense of communicative rationality. That couple of paragraphs follows, for persons unfamiliar with Habermas, coming to this spot via the NYTimes article. Afterward, I have a short discussion of Fish’s article, Section 2 here.

• Section 1: about Habermas, for new readers
Since the 1960s, Jürgen Habermas has made lasting contributions to political philosophy, philosophy of language, social theory, moral theory, philosophy of law, and other areas. He discursively finds reason for democratic humanity in the nature of our communicative life, but he greatly exemplifies his own interdisciplinary view of philosophy. {This is lifted from the Facebook/Habermas Page. The following paragraphs are from “reason for democracy”]

Interactions between individuals are implicitly socialized by shared background and overtly coordinated through speech necessarily implying commitment to truthfulness and appropriateness. If there’s really reason to formally claim that something is valid (systematically true or appropriate or genuine), then everyone concerned would, in principle, come to accept that claim, given procedurally ideal opportunity (e.g., time and competence all around)—which implies interest in enabling capability and opportunity for understanding.

Ideally, every participant sincerely desires to understand (also desiring to make oneself understood); no one is prevented from satisfactory participation (while everyone participates as best they can), and (most ideally) everyone reasons competently and appropriately, such that a plan, value, etc. prevails for activity only due to its real validity appreciated by all involved. So, particular plans, values, assertions, etc. that deserve action-orienting prevalence necessarily imply justifiability (given enabled capability and opportunity for understanding by all those questioning a matter), due immanently to internal relations of linguistic components (intentionality, performance, and propositional content) to kinds of justification (though the pragmatics of justification may require extended learning processes).

• Section 2: Stanley Fish’s ‘...Mother...’ article, May 23

I recognize that the above sketch of Habermas’ conception of communicative openness for justification and discursive learning doesn’t easily seem relevant to an examination of genuineness, reasoning in general, and the character of fakery by media sources. My initial point was merely to give meaning to my beginning lament at the Times article that the relevance of Habermas’ work wasn’t hinted (or expressed) in an article on communicative systems in a philosophy-oriented corner of a leading media source.

But my project sections of discussion which precede this section show practically—relative to issues of “fake news”—how “Habermasian” thinking (through my example) may usefully bridge lifeworld issues (“being well,” “good thinking”) and systemic issues (“advancing community,” “being in Time,” i.e., living with emergent news) through conceptual inquiry.

However, I wasn’t primarily concerned in previous sections of this project to set up a context for explicating Habermas’s views beyond what’s been discussed; rather, to show an approach to issues of “fake news” that is Habermasian, I would argue. My prior Website discussions of Habermas (2004-2017) provide ample background for making sense of “Habermasian” views generally (across many kinds of topics).

The several articles that I’ve used in my discussion (indicated as “source A,” “source B,” and the Digital Journalism article) have been so directly useful that I don’t feel interest any longer in dwelling with Fish’s motivating article, which makes no use of sources outside his own musing. It’s remarkable to me that Fish is so self-centered, because the sources that I’ve used were located by me quickly through a simple Google search on ‘fake news’; and all of my sources were available to Fish, if he had done a simple search. Those sources undermine Fish’s views, which I could show in terms of my earlier discussion applied to specifics of Fish’s discussion. But who cares?

Before I located those sources which I’ve employed, I set out to do a direct commentary on Fish’s article by first identifying all of his points and themes (24 items: assertions and explications), grouping those into foci (16 foci), and sequencing that for the sake of organizing an immanent discussion. Though I lost interest in following through with that specifically, I’m archiving my unused notes for some future use, perhaps for an exercise in textual analysis of an article by a professor of English who became a teacher of rhetoric in a law school, and moonlighted as a Times columnist (2005-2013), now back online for his opining about “fake news” or fake views (e.g., casual opinion postured as argumentation).

Lastly: Section 5: “furthermore