Truth 20/20: An Online Conference

Truth 20/20
July 27 – August 6, 2020
View conference program

About the conference

Truth 20/20 brings together a community of scholars united by an interest in understanding truth. The year 2020 is unlike any in recent memory. We face the novel coronavirus pandemic as well as an ongoing pandemic of misinformation driven by political propaganda, fake news, personalized social media, and the politicization of basic facts. As the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the globe, we have been forced to reinvent and reimagine how we interact with one another. Nowhere is this more perspicuous than in scholarly pursuits.

The coronavirus may have denied us the opportunity to meet face-to-face, but the advent of online synchronous meetings and events has created an opportunity both to meet in a responsible, socially-distanced manner and to expand the scope of the project, making it more accessible, available, and inclusive. Therefore, we have invited scholars at all career stages to present at a virtual meeting that highlights recent work on the nature and value of truth. The conference is free, and, since sessions will be held online, it will be open to anyone interested in philosophical debates about truth. We sincerely hope that established scholars, a broad range of students, and the interested public will attend.

Regrettably, because of the quick onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Truth 20/20 was unable to make an open call for papers and was obliged to invite scholars to present their research in an online forum.


Topic of the conference

Truth. Curators of the conference were forming a working research group on truth when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread, and the idea dawned on them that they should organise a virtual conference for summer 2020. After all, it has been a few years since a congress or international conference on truth has been convened.

Why people may be interested to attend… virtually

With the spread of the coronavirus, fewer and fewer institutions are likely to grant financial support for academic staff and students to travel domestically or internationally because of the high risk of contracting the virus. Moreover, northern hemisphere summers have traditionally been a time for academic staff and students to attend conferences because of the teaching recess. For these reasons, we have decided to organise a conference to satisfy the desire of scholars who have been left stranded sheltering in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

From Truth 20/20 to VICTR

Truth 20/20 is just the beginning. The event serves to launch a regular series of meetings under the banner of the Virtual International Consortium for Truth Research (“VICTR”). However, VICTR will operate differently. We endeavour for VICTR:

  1. To give early-career researchers a platform in which they may share work with others who have similar, overlapping interests;

  2. To foster an environment that facilitates critical but constructive feedback for presenters; and perhaps most importantly;

  3. To promote greater gender and ethnic diversity in a core area of philosophical research.

VICTR will not restrict contributions to the nature of truth. Curators would like for the working group not to be siloed and certainly want to avoid the creation of yet another echo chamber. Because of this, we conceive of scholarship on truth very broadly to include: the nature of truth; truthlikeness and verisimilitude; truthfulness; trustworthiness; honesty; propaganda; politics and political truth; and post-truth and alternative facts.

Truth 20/20 and the Future of Truth

Philosophers have become increasingly aware of how understanding the nature of truth requires appreciating its role in our thought, our language, our society, and our own lives. Modern technology has broken down barriers that once prevented access to information, but the darker side of this change is well-known. It has delivered a flood of misinformation, disinformation, bald-faced lies, and falsehoods to an underprepared general public. Often unwittingly, we have replaced old barriers with new ones by confining ourselves to echo chambers of opinion and epistemic bubbles of shared tribal convictions.

Truth 20/20 includes not only cutting-edge contemporary philosophical work on what it means for something to be “true,” but also historical reflection on how philosophical thinking about truth has developed over the past one hundred years or so. It connects with the Future of Truth project’s mission to investigate “what truth is now and if, and how, it will matter in the future.” The connection is precisely what one would expect from scholarship in the humanities: engagement with big questions about human life that have affected us in the past, concern us now, and will be confronted in the future. Such engagement includes considering and appreciating these questions from diverse, historical perspectives while aiming to improve our approach to perennial philosophical questions.

Asynchrony and Accessibility

We aim for the presentations to be accessible to everyone. An online conference with participants in widely dispersed time zones makes it desirable to incorporate asynchronous communication. We hope presenters will agree to have their talks recorded and made available for a limited time online. We also hope they will participate in the online discussion of their talks for a week or so after the conference. Further, when the talks are made available online, they will be closed-captioned.