On Nov. 1 in the Chancellor’s Suite, the Philosophy Department featured a discussion by Dr. Jessica Moss, a philosophy professor at New York University. Moss was invited to Seton Hall to give the lecture as part of the Philosopher’s Speak series which is held by the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Philosophy Department.
Moss’ primary area of research is ancient philosophy, specifically focusing on ethics and psychology. Her expertise in these topics influenced the direction of the evening’s lecture, “Plato on Why We Believe Fake News.”
The discussion focused on two main points: the deceptive nature of appearances and the irrationality of human beings in relation to Plato’s ideas about humanity.
In particular, Moss argued that people’s general impulsiveness to share information without thinking about it can create a misinformed society.
Felipe Pereira, a sophomore philosophy major and president of the Philosophy Club, said that Moss’ lecture focused on how, “Plato can offer us some insight into the relationship between modern democracy and fake news.”
Pereira said that the lecture was relevant in today’s world as we are bombarded with information through social media and do not take time to question that material.
“Her lecture is relevant in two ways,” he said. “On a personal level, taking the time to question the information that comes across us is relevant because I can only assume we want to know what’s actually happening, we all want to know the truth. On a collective level, taking the time to question the information that comes across us is relevant because spreading misinformation can really affect whole demographics.”
Pereira added that he enjoyed how Moss incorporated Plato into practical and contemporary issues.
“Dr. Moss posits a challenge, either show that a culture of misinformation is not the inevitable result of democracy, or argue that democracy compensates for it with other valuable things,” he said.
Dr. Denise Vigani, assistant professor in the Philosophy Department, said she was pleased with the way students asked questions and were engaged in the lecture.
“Dr. Moss was a really engaging speaker,” Vigani said. “I liked how Dr. Moss made clear the ways in which Plato’s views of rationality and democracy are relevant to contemporary issues with which we find ourselves struggling.”
Zoey Dotson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.