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Rethinking conspiracy theories

Synthese 200 (4):1-29 (2022)

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  1. The power of second-order conspiracies.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2024 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (Online):1-26.
    A second-order conspiracy (SOC) is a conspiracy that aims to create (and typically also disseminate) a conspiracy theory. Second-order conspiracy theories (SOCT) are theories that explain the occurrence of a given conspiracy theory by appeal to a conspiracy. In this paper I argue that SOC and SOCT are useful and coherent concepts, while also having numerous philosophically interesting upshots (in terms of epistemology, explanation, and prediction). Secondly, I appeal to the nature of two specific kinds of second-order conspiracies to make (...)
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  • Racist and antiracist conspiracy theories.Will Mittendorf - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In conspiracy theory philosophy the primary debate has been epistemic, but the concern is now also shifting to the ethical and political implications of taking conspiracy theories seriously. This shift is epitomized in the work of Quassim Cassam, whose focus has moved away from the epistemic faults of the theories and theorists to the political function of conspiracy theories. This function, he argues, is to ‘express and promote an ideology’, specifically, racist, antisemitic, and extremist ideology. In this essay, I will (...)
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  • Normativity in studying conspiracy theory belief: Seven guidelines.Rik Peels, Nora Kindermann & Chris Ranalli - 2023 - Philosophical Psychology 36 (6):1125-1159.
    This paper aims to provide clear guidelines for researchers studying conspiracy theory belief. It examines the meta-linguistic question about how we should conceptualize 'conspiracy theory' and its relationship to the evaluative question of how we should evaluate beliefs in conspiracy theories, addressing normative issues surrounding the meaning, use, and conceptualization of ‘conspiracy theory’, as well as how these issues might impact how researchers study conspiracy theories or beliefs in them It argues that four norms, the Empirical Accuracy Norm, the Linguistic (...)
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  • Genealogical Undermining for Conspiracy Theories.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.
    In this paper I develop a genealogical approach for investigating and evaluating conspiracy theories. I argue that conspiracy theories with an epistemically problematic genealogy are (in virtue of that fact) epistemically undermined. I propose that a plausible type of candidate for such conspiracy theories involves what I call ‘second-order conspiracies’ (i.e. conspiracies that aim to create conspiracy theories). Then, I identify two examples involving such conspiracies: the antivaccination industry and the industry behind climate change denialism. After fleshing out the mechanisms (...)
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  • Some Conspiracy Theories.M. R. X. Dentith - 2023 - Social Epistemology (4):522-534.
    A remarkable feature of the philosophical work on conspiracy theory theory has been that most philosophers agree there is nothing inherently problematic about conspiracy theories (AKA the thesis of particularism). Recent work, however, has challenged this consensus view, arguing that there really is something epistemically wrong with conspiracy theorising (AKA generalism). Are particularism and generalism incompatible? By looking at just how much particularists and generalists might have to give away to make their theoretical viewpoints compatible, I will argue that particularists (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering, Conceptual Domination, and the Case of Conspiracy Theories.Matthew Shields - 2023 - Social Epistemology 37 (4):464-480.
    Using the example of recent attempts to engineer the concept of conspiracy theory, I argue that philosophers should be far more circumspect in their approach to conceptual engineering than we have been – in particular, that we should pay much closer attention to the history behind and context that surrounds our target concept in order to determine whether it is a site of what I have elsewhere called ‘conceptual domination’. If it is, we may well have good reason to avoid (...)
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  • Avoiding the Stereotyping of the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories: A Reply to Hill.M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (8):41-49.
    I’m to push back on Hill’s (2022) criticism in four ways. First: we need some context for the debate that occurred in the pages of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective that so concerns Hill. Second: getting precise with our terminology (and not working with stereotypes) is the only theoretically fruitful way to approach the problem of conspiracy theories. Third: I address Hill’s claim there is no evidence George W. Bush or Tony Blair accused their critics, during the build-up (...)
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  • Hazards of Conceptual Engineering: Revisiting the Case of ‘Conspiracy Theory’.Matthew Shields - 2024 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 13 (2):74-90.
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