Philosophical Alternatives – 1-2021

Issue editor: Nikolay Mihaylov
CONTENTS & Abstracts & Keywords

Simeon Vassilev – The Media: Between Freedom and Technology
The Internet and social networks have become a shelter for the media, as paper once was for books and newspapers; today, satellites provide radio and television with endless possibilities for distribution. Digitalization is the new means of information and, perhaps, though we have not yet understood this, the modern instrument of knowledge and culture. The new space-time continuum of the media could not exist without values such as freedom of speech and human rights. Human experience of the media – ranging from the "Gutenberg galaxy" to the "universe of the Internet" – teaches us that these values are not given once and for all, even though everything has become digital and multimediatic.
Keywords: media; digitalization; communication; value; culture.
Nikolay Mihaylov – Michel Foucault, Parrhesia, and Moral Truth
: The article explores Michel Foucault's ideas on the phenomenon of parrhesiа and its role in telling and defending the truth. An attempt is made to show that, according to Foucault, sincere speech, as an expression of subjective truth, is a kind of moral position with regard to the truth, without which communication, or the full exercise of power in society, would be impossible. This also applies to the modern communication situation, in which the various procedures for establishing the truth or authenticity of the facts should not be absolute and should not replace the free choice and moral position in the professional morality of mass communication specialists.
Keywords: Michel Foucault; ethics; parrhesia; truth; communication; power.
Hristo Hristov – Henry Sidgwick and Philosophical Formation of Publicity
The quotation from The Methods of Ethics by Henry Sidgwick, placed in note 1 in this article, seems to be especially topical today, when astronomy and ethics are very different from what they were in the second half of 19th century. The present-day situation, subjected to the dynamics of development in the realm of social media, suggests that our notions of personal identity and the self-directing moral determination of identity are under the sway of fluidity and the variety of moral discourses in the public sphere. In the 1870s, in his The Methods of Ethics, Sidgwick greatly contributed to the formation of original discussion on that same issue. He was also the moral philosopher who thus proposed a proper interpretation of the philosophical issues regarding person and morality left as a legacy of Early Modern thought in the conceptions of writers such as Locke, Hume, and Kant. The present article discusses all these topics.
Keywords: philosophical traditions of Early Modernity; code of public opinion; Sidgwick's conception of the methods of ethics.
Martin Tabakov – Logical Culture and Critical Thinking against Media Manipulations
: The main thesis is that, in order to counteract against media manipulations, it is necessary to enhance the logical culture of the population - specifically, culture related to the theory of argumentation and critical thinking. This would help seeing through many assertions pretending to logical argumentation, which (more or less successfully) merely imitate logical justification but are in fact not logically correct, (being fallacies). The author points out certain basic fallacies on which media manipulations are based: the false dilemma, concealment of the real dilemma, affirming the consequent, argumentum ad hominem, false analogy, argument from authority, substitution of the opponent's thesis with an easily refutable thesis, conjunction as implication, appeal to probability. Certain examples of these fallacies are drawn from the media and presented.
Keywords: fallacy; manipulation; affirming the consequent; ad hominem; аppeal to probability.
Svetlana Alexandrova – The Nature of the Term “Public Opinion” and Its Role in Social Processes
: The main thesis of the article is that the nature of the concept “public opinion” is strictly related to its functions in social processes. It is a complex, dynamic, factor-driven communication process that can be defined as rationality, as social control, as conversation, and as counting, and is characterized by its dependence on publicity, mass communications and democratic practices. Its active function in modern social processes increases the pressure of influence on the formation of public opinion, which leads to the latter's artificial construction.
Keywords: public opinion; definition; public opinion research; democracy; public sphere; socio-political models and representations.
Olya Stoyanova – Media, Archaeology, and the Use of the Past in the Daily Press during the Period 2010–2015
: This article is focused on the particularities of media coverage of topics related to archaeology ad history in the daily press. The author examines journalists' texts related to archaeology, where the latter is taken in the broad sense of the word – as a discipline that studies the past by investigating and analyzing various artifacts, historical documents and archaeological sites. The author's study is focused on trends of tabloidization in the media, and on the use of the past as a capital and instrument for exciting national self-esteem.
Keywords: media; archaeology; history; daily press.
Iskra Dandolova – The Ghetto: Between Poverty and Wealth. The Origin of the Term and the Development of the Concept
: The term “ghetto” is used with increasing frequency, and in various senses, both in modern research literature and in everyday speech. The meaning of the term is gradually expanding, which is especially evident when its present-day transformation is compared with the historical context of its origin. In seeking how the term first came to be used, and the origin of the concept, various motives and circumstances are pointed out, deserving of scholarly attention. The need to lend greater clarity and veracity to the nature of the concept of “ghetto” obliges us not to disregard the etymology of the term. Its use increasingly expands the field of social events with which it is associated, as well as the territorial distribution of communities. New suggestions are added to their subcultures, and innovations are introduced that encompass even the extreme forms of social facts – such as poverty and wealth.
Keywords: Venice; Jews; ghetto; the etymology of “ghetto”; haskalah; ghettoes of the poor; ghettoes of the rich.
Nikolai Alexandrov – Man, Society and the State in Herbert Spencer's Sociological Theory
: This article examines Herbert Spencer's organic-evolutionary sociological theory, built on an analogy between dependencies in the development of society and the development of biological organisms that emphasized the interpretation of the idea of progress. The article analyzes a number of basic points in Spencer's doctrine, such as the relationship between social and industrial progress, the role of property and socio-economic well-being, the evolutionary forms of statehood, legislation and lawmaking, the interpretation of positive and negative freedom. Also considered is Spencer's concept of social evolution, according to which societies are not created, but develop; they cannot be created artificially and intentionally, as they grow naturally, similar to a natural system.
Keywords: state; society; individual; organism; progress; evolution; government; law.
Krasimir Delchev – The Political Rhetoric and Populism of Tiberius in the Law against Astrologists, Theatrical Actors and the Decay of Morality
: The article examines Tiberius's political rhetoric and populism in the laws against astrologists, theatrical actors and the decay of morality.
Keywords: Tiberius; rhetorics; populism.
Ani Dimitrova – Is the Fourth Estate Becoming the First?
: With the development of public relations and technology, the question arises more and more often whether the media, which provide the most dynamic opportunity for communication between state bodies and citizens, have not replaced the formally established three authorities that form the basis of any democratic society. The metaphor “Fourth Estate” most clearly shows the need for independent control, on behalf of the public, over the other three powers – the judicial, legislative and executive. Thus, it is important to note that information campaigns designed to manipulate public opinion with false or misleading social media posts have become a standard political practice. The media are called upon to be an objective corrective and an expression of the public interest, even if this may bring about political change. An emblematic example of this is the research and revelations of two Washington Post journalists (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein), who provoked the Watergate scandal and led to US President Nixon's resignation in 1974. Today, the Fourth Estate has more power than ever to be a mediator possessing access to the authorities and the people it must serve. An example of this are the recent US presidential elections. But the Fourth Estate is also an indicator of truth in today's digital society, where news spreads in seconds and the social media raise the question as to whether it is possible to control information without affecting its truthfulness and reliability. The question is, are the media and technological giants not actually the new rulers and the foremost power ?!
Keywords: media; Fourth Estate; power.
Nonka Bogomilova – The Structure of Historical Knowledge, or, Asen Ignatov Revisited
Prof. DSc Radi Radev