Propaganda is an un-avoidable feature of modern society. It has been identified with multiple global conflicts, oppressive totalitarianisms, and misinformation campaigns that threaten democracy. Despite the world’s popularization in discourse, it remains somewhat ambiguous, begetting many attempts to define and analyze the concept of propaganda. This project contributes to this effort by examining how propaganda involves itself in logical forms of reasoning and judging its value from an epistemological perspective. Propaganda can be interpreted through logically argumentative forms. These arguments are always improper, involving an invalid form or false proposition; therefore, propaganda cannot directly provide real knowledge. Nevertheless, it succeeds in leading its audience to adopt a belief or action through nonlogical means and the manipulation of available information. An individual may identify and avoid propagandas that rely solely on nonlogical techniques by working to identify their apparent logical flaws, although resisting them altogether still appears to be a major challenge. Unfortunately, propagandas that manipulate available information are far more difficult for an individual to avoid, due to their leveraging of the propagandee’s lack of knowledge held by the propagandist and inability to find the truth themselves. The only way to effectively limit the negative epistemic influence of these propagandas may lie at the societal level, but specific solutions remain a subject of debate and additional research.
Sponsored by Bob Goeckel
"An Epistemological Account of the Logic of Propaganda,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2020, Article 16.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2020/iss1/16