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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 is now irrelevant

The marketplace of ideas is no longer relevant. The concept served its purpose; to raise the issue of government accountability.
Culture Education Liberalism Marketplace of Ideas Society

The Argument

The marketplace of ideas was conceived in the late nineteenth century, a period characterised by a growing demand for government accountability. Government coercion and suppression were viewed with suspicion by a free and educated public.affairs</> The theory considers society as a rational mass. Theories and philosophies are laid out before discerning citizens, who in turn consider the pros and cons of all ideas they are presented with. If this concept was idealistic at its birth, it is ridiculous in the internet age. It cannot hold up in virtual environments where algorithms and moderator biases are the major determinants of what the public sees online.[1] The online experience is built to improve the user experience, maximize traffic and revenue. In practice, this fragments society, with an online economy built on securing echo chambers and presenting users with information that makes them feel they are right. In this environment, opinions are validated in a virtual feedback loop. The internet discourages individuals from questioning their beliefs, rewards confirmation bias, and contributes to the spread of misinformation.

Counter arguments

Algorithms regulate the information we see organically. However, this argument fails to account for human curiosity. The internet is the perfect arena for the marketplace of ideas to thrive. Information from across the spectrum is now freely available to all that seek it.



[P1] The market approach assumes that citizens will accept and adopt ideas that are true and reject falsehoods. [P2] The market approach assumes that the ideas on offer are based in fact. [P3] The market approach assumes that citizens are completely grounded in logic rather than world view. [P4] Government censorship has been replaced in part by mob censorship backed by the government and corporations.

Rejecting the premises


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

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