Mapping the world's opinions

argument top image

Does the marketplace of ideas work? Show more Show less

It is said that truth is found where opinions intersect. The marketplace of ideas is the figurative town thoroughfare where zealots and intellectuals barter, subjecting their ideas to the gauntlet of public debate. Much how the best goods and services may rise to the top in a free market economy through innovation and competition, truth and the soundest ideas and philosophies may rise to prominence through rigorous and honest questioning. But is it really that simple? Does it work?

No, the marketplace of ideas does not work Show more Show less

< Previous (2 of 2 Positions)

It is irrelevant in this day and age

The marketplace of ideas, while once relevant, does not translate to the online age.
< Previous (1 of 4 Arguments) Next >


The Argument

The marketplace of ideas is a model conceived in the environment of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries where government coercion and suppression were the primary fear of a free and educated public. It precludes that theories and philosophies are laid before the discerning masses on a level field like vendors. It also assumes that all within the market are completely rational and motivated enough to weigh other options. This idea does not translate to an age where algorithms and moderator biases are the sole determining factors in what the public sees online. These measures to cater user experience and maximize traffic and revenue have fragmented society into echo chambers. In this environment, subsets of opinions validate themselves in a feedback loop that does nothing to strengthen arguments and can radicalize some. It deters individuals from questioning and thinking critically, rewards confirmation bias, and contributes to the spread of misinformation. Government censorship is always a risk and, like corporate behavior, is downstream from culture. This leads to their power and influence being weaponized under tyranny of the majority or of a vocal minority. Targeted bashing, group shaming, doxxing, deplatforming, and outright death threats become the linchpin for invasive corporate policies and laws. These sorts of social and mortal threats hamper any free exchange of ideas. Further evolution of the internet is necessary in order to reconcile the tailored experience and balanced exposure.

Counter arguments

Muddying the water with more regulation and restriction at such an early stage in the internet’s evolution will hamper the natural evolution of the principles on which it is based. The internet can still be an open marketplace of ideas. One cannot raise some voices without suppressing or silencing others.



[P1] The market approach assumes that citizens will accept and adopt ideas that are true and reject falsehoods. [P2] The market approach assumes that the ideas on offer are based in fact. [P3] The market approach assumes that citizens are completely grounded in logic rather than world view. [P4] Government censorship has been replaced in part by mob censorship backed by the government and corporations.

Rejecting the premises


Further Reading


    Explore related arguments

    This page was last edited on Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 09:41 UTC