Truth in a Post-Truth World


We are said to have entered a post-truth age. But what is truth anyway? And what exactly has changed? The current problem does not seem to be that of aiming at truth and missing the mark, but a lack of interest in getting it right. Is this sort of ‘post-truth thinking’ the new normal?

In 1986 the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt famously distinguished between the liar and the bullsh*tter by remarking that one (the liar) is still guided by the authority of the truth whilst the other (the bullsh*tter) defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. Careless deception therefore is more subversive than a carefully crafted lie.

Self-interest and the trading of fake news may be as old as humanity itself, but what in pre-multimedia days had often stayed within the village boundaries now has a chance to be spread like an epidemic with large scale popular traction. Why are careful analysis and expert opinion so often the subject of distrust or even disdain while outlandish claims are readily embraced by a spellbound audience? What contributes to the rise of misinformation and how can we remedy the situation?

In this day school two philosophers will guide you through the history of the concept of truth and what it might mean. We then consider how and why it has come under pressure in recent years and how we should respond.

This course complements the weekly class 'What is truth?' taught by Dr Weckend, but the courses can be taken independently.


Programme details

Saturday 30 May 2020


9.30am             Course Registration

9.45am             Introductions (Julia Weckend & Doug Bamford)

10.00am           Truth in the analytical tradition (Julia Weckend)

11.15am           Tea / coffee

11.45am           Relativism and skepticism (Doug Bamford)

1.00pm             Lunch

2.00pm             Why has truth become less important? (JW)

3.15pm             Coffee / tea

3.45pm             What is driving us away from truth? (DB)

5.00pm            Concluding thoughts: how should we respond? (JW & DB)

5.15pm             Course disperses



Description Costs
includes coffee/tea £70.00
Baguette £5.00
Full Hot Lunch (3 courses) £15.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Dr Doug Bamford

Course Tutor & Co-Chair

Doug Bamford received his PhD in Political Philosophy at the University of Warwick in 2013. He is author of Rethinking Taxation (Searching Finance, 2014) and several papers (including articles in the Journal of Applied Philosophy and Moral Philosophy and Politics). He blogs at Doug Bamford's Tax Appeal.

Dr Julia Weckend

Course Tutor & Co-Chair

Julia has taught philosophy at the Universities of Reading and Southampton before joining the OUDCE as a tutor in 2014.

Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies


Marianne Talbot took her first degree at London University, then her B.Phil at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). She has taught for the colleges of Oxford University for 30 years (1987 – 1990 at Pembroke College, 1991 – 2000 at Brasenose College). She has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since 2001. She is the author of Bioethics: An Introduction, and Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic. Marianne’s podcasts have been hugely popular. Two of them have been global number one on iTunesU. One of these (The Nature of Arguments) has been downloaded 7 million times.




Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.