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Anno LII, n. 218, gennaio-aprile 2017
The aim of the article is to inquire into the idea of ‘alethic rights’ (AR), i.e. rights that involve truth, suggesting what these rights could be, in which sense they are specific rights, distinct from other fundamental rights, and how they can be preserved and safeguarded. The notion of ‘AR’ is implicit in many governmental commitments ratified by international customary or written law, but not explicitly mentioned in any official document. The expression itself, ‘AR’, is not used in human rights theory or philosophy of law. The «right to (know the) truth» has been theorized and defended, recently, in many occasions and contexts, especially with reference to the overthrowing or fall of totalitarian regimes, or in cases of manipulated and distorted electoral debates (such as in case of Berlusconi’s or Trump’s populisms). However, there is no specific treatment of AR in a detailed way and in a philosophical perspective. I try to provide an accurate account of the possibility conditions of a theory of AR not limited to the generic appeal to truthfulness or honesty (of politicians, or people working in the media), and aware of the problems connected to the use of the conceptual function we call ‘truth’. I have moved from the idea that the notion of truth is not at the basis of one simple right (the «right to know the truth»), but opens an entire field of analysis or a «system of rights», significantly including many different aspects of the associated life. Hence, I have distinguished three couples of AR, respectively related to: information, science, and culture: 1-2. The right to know the truth and the right to be in the condition of knowing the truth 3-4. The right to be considered a reliable source of truth and the right to dispose of reliable official sources of truth 5-6. The right to live in “alethic societies”, where public truth is promoted and safeguarded, but there is general awareness about the importance as well as the extreme frailty of the conceptual function we call ‘truth’ for human life in democratic contexts.