Five lessons on bringing truth back to politics from Britain’s first female philosophy professor

It is often said that we live in a “post-truth” era. It is unclear at times what role, if any, truth plays in politics. During the pandemic, world leaders dismissed the advice of experts and acted against empirical data.

Democracies have felt precarious – in the US, during the Trump presidency, and in countries like Brazil, Hungary and Poland currently. Integral to such corrosion of democracy (as George Orwell made clear in his novel 1984) is the distortion of truth and facts in favour of a particular agenda.

In times of crisis, it can be helpful to look backwards at how our forebears have coped with similar situations in history.

Now, I suggest we look to an under-appreciated philosopher writing just before the outbreak of the second world war, as fascism and communism threatened the stability of European democracy.

It is often said that we live in a “post-truth” era. It is unclear at times what role, if any, truth plays in politics. During the pandemic, world leaders dismissed the advice of experts and acted against empirical data.

Democracies have felt precarious – in the US, during the Trump presidency, and in countries like Brazil, Hungary and Poland currently. Integral to such corrosion of democracy (as George Orwell made clear in his novel 1984) is the distortion of truth and facts in favour of a particular agenda.

In times of crisis, it can be helpful to look backwards at how our forebears have coped with similar situations in history.

Now, I suggest we look to an under-appreciated philosopher writing just before the outbreak of the second world war, as fascism and communism threatened the stability of European democracy.