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Public philosophy as a tool of logical empowerment



Landecker Fellow Thomas Arnold was recently interviewed in an episode of Find Out Why_ It’s Trustworthy. Find Out Why is a podcast series that deals with contemporary issues such as “the new culture on the Internet, digital literacy, high quality journalism, critical thinking on social media, evidence based content, mis(dis)information online, AI, data, data governance and other topics of relevant interest.”

In this episode, Thomas discusses the importance of using reason and logic in everyday life. He explains how reason allows people to analyse positions without being experts in a given field. He uses vaccines as an example. Even though we might not all be virologists, we can still check whether someone provides evidence, whether they argue consistently and whether they are willing to change their position if given enough reasons to do so – which scientists do, on the whole. In contrast, when “anti-vaxxers” explain their argument, it usually boils down to dogmatically citing bad sources and disproved articles. Thomas emphasizes that reasoning concerns form, i.e. how we think, argue and conceptualise the world – as much as content, i.e. what we believe. The use of logic and evidence in arguments is a practice that has to be trained. Thomas’ Landecker project deals with this issue.

Listen to the full episode here.

Thomas one of thirty Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellows. This fellowship, a collaboration between the Alfred Landecker Foundationand Humanity in Action, was created to strengthen a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and social challenges can become catalysts for democratic placemaking and community building. Read more about the fellowship here.