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The Epistemology of Fake News

Anandi Hattiangadi

Fake news and misinformation are making it difficult to discern the truth. But might it be actually impossible? Professor of Philosophy Anandi Hattiangadi discusses how misinformation is damaging democracies and outlines a way to achieve real knowledge.

  • anandihattiangadi
    Anandi Hattiangadi

    Anandi Hattiangadi is a Professor of Philosophy at Stockholm University and was previously a lecturer at Oxford University.


About the Course


From climate change denial to claiming that Covid-19 is “just the flu”, fake news has become a defining feature of our time and an urgent and novel problem to solve. While most of us believe ourselves immune to disinformation, unconscious psychological biases and epistemological limits make the task of discerning fact from fiction much harder than we might think.

What exactly is fake news? Why are none of us immune to it? Can we truly know something if we haven’t carefully investigated all evidence for and against it? If not, is it even possible to drop all our beliefs and accept we don’t know anything? Can we avoid the dangers of dogmatism while committing to a realist epistemological framework?

Professor of Philosophy at Stockholm University and author of Oughts and Thoughts Anandi Hattiangadi outlines how we can rescue the concept of true knowledge.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • How we might correctly believe something to be true, and still not know it to be true.
  • The three ways fake news poses a threat to knowledge.
  • What the KK principle is, and why it fails.
  • Why the beliefs we’re most confident in require the most investigation.
  • Why we don’t need to know that we know something in order to know it.
  • How undogmatic realism can provide a way out of this epistemological quandary.


IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Anandi Hattiangadi

    Anandi Hattiangadi is a Professor of Philosophy at Stockholm University. She received a BA in Philosophy from York University, Toronto, an MA in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, and a PhD from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. In 2000, she took up a Research Fellowship at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and from 2005 to 2013 she was University Lecturer at the Philosophy Faculty and Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy at St Hilda’s College, both at the University of Oxford. She is writing a monograph, provisionally entitled Representation: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, in which she argues that intentionality is fundamental.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Understanding the Threat
    What is fake news, and how does it pose a threat to the concept of true knowledge? Hattiangadi draws upon her expertise in epistemology to sound the alarm about disinformation.
  • Part Two: What Can Be Done?
    What can we do as individuals? And what about collective action? Hattiangadi takes us through the options, from critical thinking to legal safeguards.