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Does the marketplace of ideas work? Show more Show less
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The 'marketplace of ideas' theory argues that truth is found where opinions intersect. It is the figurative arena in which all can share their opinions, subjecting them to rational, public debate. In the same way that quality goods and services rise to the top in a free market economy, so this theory sees ideas as subject to the same rigorous competition. Popular ideas are considered "truths" insofar as they rise on the back of reason. These truths are essential for society to progress. Does the marketplace of ideas work?

No, the marketplace of ideas does not work Show more Show less

The marketplace of ideas is based on an idealistic conception of society, which means in practice it cannot work.
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The marketplace of ideas assumes an empathetic fallacy

The idea falsely assumes that making emotional arguments is enough to change people's minds on an issue. This is simply incorrect.
Culture Education Liberalism Marketplace of Ideas Philosophy Society


The empathic fallacy is defined as “the belief that one can change a narrative by offering an alternative narrative, in hopes that the listener's empathy will quickly and reliably take over.”

The Argument

The marketplace model infers that notions of common humanity, decency, and rationality will prevail against ideological forces like racism, sexism, classism, and other prejudices.[1][2] One need look only to contemporary movements around Black Lives Matter or the gender pay gap, to see that prejudice thrives despite rational arguments against it. In this case, there is nothing to say that encouraging all ideas equally will not lead to deepening prejudice and hateful ideologies. A belief in a basic threshold of human empathy is naive. And bears little relation to the lived experience of many people world-wide.

Counter arguments

The marketplace of ideas is about showcasing ideas and giving them a platform. That is important to protect free speech, but only those that stand up to scrutiny will survive. Those that do not, will not. Empathy is less important than the soundness of an argument in many cases. And the Western social consensus on what this means, is largely based on liberal principles that promote equality and reason, over hate and hierarchy.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:37 UTC

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