The irrationality of political beliefs

Why political belief is like supporting a sports team

People espouse all sorts of seemingly unfounded, crazy-sounding political beliefs. It’s led many commentators to think that political beliefs are just irrational. Others have argued that people don’t really believe what they say; they’re just supporting their political team, just like in sports. But if our political preferences are just as arbitrary as our choice of sports teams, we can hardly call them rational, argues Oliver Traldi.

 

Around the 2016 American presidential election, which saw the rise of Donald Trump and the ushering in of what was dubbed a post-truth era, both philosophers and pundits started to take very seriously the notion that politics and epistemology – the study of belief, rationality, and knowledge – had a lot to do with one another. Many commentators, as it turned out, began to wonder whether what was going wrong in American politics had something to do with problematic ways people were forming their political beliefs.

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