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  1. Conspiracy Theories, Scepticism, and Non-Liberal Politics.Fred Matthews - 2023 - Social Epistemology 37 (5):626-636.
    There has been much interest in conspiracy theories (CTs) amongst philosophers in recent years. The aim of this paper will be to apply some of the philosophical research to issues in political theory. I will first provide an overview of some of the philosophical discussions about CTs. While acknowledging that particularism is currently the dominant position in the literature, I will contend that the ‘undue scepticism problem’, a modified version of an argument put forward by Brian Keeley, is an important (...)
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  • The Skeptic and the Climate Change Skeptic.Alex Worsnip - 2021 - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York: Routledge.
    Outside the philosophy classroom, global skeptics – skeptics about all (purported) knowledge of the external world – are rare. But there are people who describe themselves as “skeptics” about various more specific domains, including self-professed “skeptics” about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. There is little to no philosophical literature that juxtaposes the climate change skeptic with the external world skeptic. While many “traditional” epistemologists assume that the external world skeptic poses a serious philosophical challenge in a way that the (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories, Populism, and Epistemic Autonomy.Keith Raymond Harris - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (1):21-36.
    Quassim Cassam has argued that psychological and epistemological analyses of conspiracy theories threaten to overlook the political nature of such theories. According to Cassam, conspiracy theories are a form of political propaganda. I develop a limited critique of Cassam's analysis.This paper advances two core theses. First, acceptance of conspiracy theories requires a rejection of epistemic authority that renders conspiracy theorists susceptible to co-option by certain political programs while insulating such programs from criticism. I argue that the contrarian nature of conspiracy (...)
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  • What is Interesting about Conspiracy Theories?Melina Tsapos - manuscript
    It is not clear that scholars, when they use the term ‘conspiracy theory’, are in fact interested in investigating the phenomenon of conspiracy theories and belief in them as such. I consider two perspectives found in the fast-growing literature on conspiracy theories: The Faux-pas View and The Neutral View. I argue that there is a difference in scholarly motivation, or at a very minimum a difference in the sustaining motivation for the research paradigms. What the motivations are is much too (...)
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  • Substantive Disagreement in the Le Monde Debate and Beyond: Replies to Duetz and Dentith, Basham, and Hewitt.Scott Hill - 2022 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (11):18-25.
    I reply to criticisms from Duetz and Dentith, Basham, and Hewitt. I argue that the central disputes on this topic concern how ordinary people understand conspiracy theories and how to evaluate concrete conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists.
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  • Conspiracy Theories.Jared A. Millson - 2020 - 1000wordphilosophy.Com.
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  • Companions in Guilt Arguments in the Epistemology of Moral Disagreement.R. A. Rowland - 2019 - In Christopher Cowie & R. A. Rowland (eds.), Companions in Guilt: Arguments in Metaethics. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 187-205.
    A popular argument is that peer disagreement about controversial moral topics undermines justified moral belief in a way that peer disagreement about non-moral topics does not undermine justified non-moral belief. Call this argument the argument for moral skepticism from peer disagreement. Jason Decker and Daniel Groll have recently made a companions in guilt response to this argument. Decker and Groll argue that if peer disagreement undermines justified moral belief, then peer disagreement undermines much non-moral justified belief; if the argument for (...)
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  • Conspiracy theories are not theories: Time to rename conspiracy theories.Kevin Reuter & Lucien Baumgartner - forthcoming - In Manuel Gustavo Isaac, Steffen Koch & Kevin Scharp (eds.), New Perspectives on Conceptual Engineering. Springer.
    This paper presents the results of two corpus studies investigating the discourse surrounding conspiracy theories and genuine theories. The results of these studies show that conspiracy theories lack the epistemic and scientific standing characteristic of theories more generally. Instead, our findings indicate that conspiracy theories are spread in a manner that resembles the dissemination of rumors and falsehoods. Based on these empirical results, we argue that it is time for both re-engineering conspiracy theory and for relabeling "conspiracy theory". We propose (...)
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  • Conspiracy theories and reasonable pluralism.Matej Cíbik & Pavol Hardoš - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (3):147488511989923.
    The popularity of conspiracy theories poses a clear challenge for contemporary liberal democracies. Conspiracy theories undermine rational debate, spread dangerous falsehoods and threaten social co...
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  • Conspiracy theories and reasonable pluralism.Matej Cíbik & Pavol Hardoš - 2022 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (3):445-465.
    The popularity of conspiracy theories poses a clear challenge for contemporary liberal democracies. Conspiracy theories undermine rational debate, spread dangerous falsehoods and threaten social cohesion. However, any possible public policy response, which would try to contain their spread, needs to respect the liberal commitment to protect pluralism and free speech. A successful justification of such a policy must therefore: 1) clearly identify the problematic class of conspiracy theories; and 2) clarify the grounds on which the state is justified in acting (...)
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  • Doing your own research and other impossible acts of epistemic superheroism.Andrew Buzzell & Regina Rini - 2023 - Philosophical Psychology 36 (5):906-930.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an “infodemic” of misinformation and conspiracy theory. This article points to three explanatory factors: the challenge of forming accurate beliefs when overwhelmed with information, an implausibly individualistic conception of epistemic virtue, and an adversarial information environment that suborns epistemic dependence. Normally we cope with the problems of informational excess by relying on other people, including sociotechnical systems that mediate testimony and evidence. But when we attempt to engage in epistemic “superheroics” - withholding trust (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories and Fortuitous Data.Joel Buenting & Jason Taylor - 2010 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (4):567-578.
    We offer a particularist defense of conspiratorial thinking. We explore the possibility that the presence of a certain kind of evidence—what we call "fortuitous data"—lends rational credence to conspiratorial thinking. In developing our argument, we introduce conspiracy theories and motivate our particularist approach (§1). We then introduce and define fortuitous data (§2). Lastly, we locate an instance of fortuitous data in one real world conspiracy, the Watergate scandal (§3).
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  • Conspiracy Theory: Truth Claim or Language Game?Ole Bjerg & Thomas Presskorn-Thygesen - 2017 - Theory, Culture and Society 34 (1):137-159.
    The paper is a contribution to current debates about conspiracy theories within philosophy and cultural studies. Wittgenstein’s understanding of language is invoked to analyse the epistemological effects of designating particular questions and explanations as a ‘conspiracy theory’. It is demonstrated how such a designation relegates these questions and explanations beyond the realm of meaningful discourse. In addition, Agamben’s concept of sovereignty is applied to explore the political effects of using the concept of conspiracy theory. The exceptional epistemological status assigned to (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories and Religion: Reframing Conspiracy Theories as Bliks.Glenn Y. Bezalel - forthcoming - Episteme:1-19.
    Conspiracy theories have largely been framed by the academy as a stigmatised form of knowledge. Yet recent scholarship has included calls to take conspiracy theories more seriously as an area of study with a desire to judge them on their own merits rather than an a priori dismissal of them as a class of explanation. This paper argues that the debates within the philosophy of religion, long overlooked by scholars of conspiracy theories, can help sow the seeds for re-examining our (...)
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  • Misinformation, Content Moderation, and Epistemology: Protecting Knowledge.Keith Raymond Harris - 2024 - Routledge.
    This book argues that misinformation poses a multi-faceted threat to knowledge, while arguing that some forms of content moderation risk exacerbating these threats. It proposes alternative forms of content moderation that aim to address this complexity while enhancing human epistemic agency. The proliferation of fake news, false conspiracy theories, and other forms of misinformation on the internet and especially social media is widely recognized as a threat to individual knowledge and, consequently, to collective deliberation and democracy itself. This book argues (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style: Do Conspiracy Theories Posit Implausibly Vast and Evil Conspiracies?Kurtis Hagen - 2018 - Social Epistemology 32 (1):24-40.
    In the social science literature, conspiracy theories are commonly characterized as theories positing a vast network of evil and preternaturally effective conspirators, and they are often treated, either explicitly or implicitly, as dubious on this basis. This characterization is based on Richard Hofstadter’s famous account of ‘the paranoid style’. However, many significant conspiracy theories do not have any of the relevant qualities. Thus, the social science literature provides a distorted account of the general category ‘conspiracy theory’, conflating it with a (...)
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  • Should Academics Debunk Conspiracy Theories?Kurtis Hagen - 2020 - Social Epistemology 34 (5):423-439.
    This article addresses the question, ‘Should scholars debunk conspiracy theories or stay neutral?’ It describes ‘conspiracy theories’ and two senses of ‘neutrality,’ arguing that scholars should be...
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  • Conspiracy theories: Causes and cures.Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (2):202-227.
    Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories (...)
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  • Rethinking conspiracy theories.Matthew Shields - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-29.
    I argue that that an influential strategy for understanding conspiracy theories stands in need of radical revision. According to this approach, called ‘generalism’, conspiracy theories are epistemically defective by their very nature. Generalists are typically opposed by particularists, who argue that conspiracy theories should be judged case-by-case, rather than definitionally indicted. Here I take a novel approach to criticizing generalism. I introduce a distinction between ‘Dominant Institution Conspiracy Theories and Theorists’ and ‘Non-Dominant Institution Conspiracy Theories and Theorists’. Generalists uncritically center (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories Are Not Beliefs.Julia Duetz - 2022 - Erkenntnis:1-15.
    Napolitano (2021) argues that the Minimalist Account of conspiracy theories—i.e., which defines conspiracy theories as explanations, or theories, about conspiracies—should be rejected. Instead, she proposes to define conspiracy theories as a certain kind of belief—i.e., an evidentially self-insulated belief in a conspiracy. Napolitano argues that her account should be favored over the Minimalist Account based on two considerations: ordinary language intuitions and theoretical fruitfulness. I show how Napolitano’s account fails its own purposes with respect to these two considerations and so (...)
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  • Some problems with particularism.Keith Raymond Harris - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-16.
    Particularists maintain that conspiracy theories are to be assessed individually, while generalists hold that conspiracy theories may be assessed as a class. This paper seeks to clarify the nature and importance of the debate between particularism and generalism, while offering an argument for a version of generalism. I begin by considering three approaches to the definition of conspiracy theory, and offer reason to prefer an approach that defines conspiracy theories in opposition to the claims of epistemic authorities. I argue that (...)
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  • Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom Revisited.Charles Pigden - 2022 - In Olli Loukola (ed.), Secrets and Conspiracies. Rodopi.
    Conspiracy theories should be neither believed nor investigated - that is the conventional wisdom. I argue that it is sometimes permissible both to investigate and to believe. Hence this is a dispute in the ethics of belief. I defend epistemic ‘oughts’ that apply in the first instance to belief-forming strategies that are partly under our control. I argue that the policy of systematically doubting or disbelieving conspiracy theories would be both a political disaster and the epistemic equivalent of self-mutilation, since (...)
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  • When to Dismiss Conspiracy Theories Out of Hand.Ryan Ross - 2023 - Synthese 202 (3):1-26.
    Given that conspiracies exist, can we be justified in dismissing conspiracy theories without concerning ourselves with specific details? I answer this question by focusing on contrarian conspiracy theories, theories about conspiracies that conflict with testimony from reliable sources of information. For example, theories that say the CIA masterminded the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 9/11 was an inside job, or the Freemasons are secretly running the world are contrarian conspiracy theories. When someone argues for a contrarian conspiracy theory, their options (...)
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  • Reconciling Conceptual Confusions in the Le Monde Debate on Conspiracy Theories, J.C.M. Duetz and M R. X. Dentith.Julia Duetz & M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 10 (11):40-50.
    This reply to an ongoing debate between conspiracy theory researchers from different disciplines exposes the conceptual confusions that underlie some of the disagreements in conspiracy theory research. Reconciling these conceptual confusions is important because conspiracy theories are a multidisciplinary topic and a profound understanding of them requires integrative insights from different fields. Specifically, we distinguish research focussing on conspiracy *theories* (and theorizing) from research of conspiracy *belief* (and mindset, theorists) and explain how particularism with regards to conspiracy theories does not (...)
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  • Dealing with Conspiracy Theory Attributions.Brian Martin - 2020 - Social Epistemology 34 (5):409-422.
    Academic discussions concerning what to do about conspiracy theories often focus on whether or not to debunk them. Less often discussed are the methods, audiences and effectiveness of debunking eff...
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  • Does the Phrase “Conspiracy Theory” Matter?M. R. X. Dentith, Ginna Husting & Martin Orr - 2023 - Society.
    Research on conspiracy theories has proliferated since 2016, in part due to the US election of President Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly threatening environmental conditions. In the rush to publication given these concerning social consequences, researchers have increasingly treated as definitive a 2016 paper by Michael Wood (Political Psychology, 37(5), 695–705, 2016) that concludes that the phrase “conspiracy theory” has no negative effect upon people’s willingness to endorse a claim. We revisit Wood’s findings and its (re)uptake in the recent (...)
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  • ‘Conspiracy Theory’ as a Tonkish Term: Some Runabout Inference-Tickets from Truth to Falsehood.Charles Pigden - 2023 - Social Epistemology 37 (4):423-437.
    I argue that ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ as commonly employed are ‘tonkish’ terms (as defined by Arthur Prior and Michael Dummett), licensing inferences from truths to falsehoods; indeed, that they are mega-tonkish terms, since their use is governed by different and competing sets of introduction and elimination rules, delivering different and inconsistent results. Thus ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ do not have determinate extensions, which means that generalizations about conspiracy theories or conspiracy theorists do not have determinate truth-values. Hence (...)
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  • What Does It Mean for a Conspiracy Theory to Be a ‘Theory’?Julia Duetz - 2023 - Social Epistemology:1-16.
    The pejorative connotation often associated with the ordinary language meaning of “conspiracy theory” does not only stem from a conspiracy theory’s being about a conspiracy, but also from a conspiracy theory’s being regarded as a particular kind of theory. I propose to understand conspiracy theory-induced polarization in terms of disagreement about the correct epistemic evaluation of ‘theory’ in ‘conspiracy theory’. By framing the positions typical in conspiracy theory-induced polarization in this way, I aim to show that pejorative conceptions of ‘conspiracy (...)
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  • Verschwörungstheorien und das Erbe der Aufklärung: Auf den Schultern von Scheinriesen.Thomas J. Spiegel - 2022 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 70 (2):253-273.
    Conspiracy theories are currently all the rage in philosophy and broader intellectual culture. One of the most common background assumptions in the discourse on conspiracy theories is that conspiracy theorists exhibit certain epistemic vices in the sense of cognitive misconduct. This epistemic vice is mostly seen as a form of irrationality; the corresponding “remedy”, as suggested by some commentators, is a return to the ideals of the Enlightenment. This article argues that this idea is wrongheaded. Upon closer inspection, it becomes (...)
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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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  • What is a Conspiracy Theory?M. Giulia Https://Orcidorg Napolitano & Kevin Https://Orcidorg Reuter - 2021 - Erkenntnis 88 (5):2035-2062.
    In much of the current academic and public discussion, conspiracy theories are portrayed as a negative phenomenon, linked to misinformation, mistrust in experts and institutions, and political propaganda. Rather surprisingly, however, philosophers working on this topic have been reluctant to incorporate a negatively evaluative aspect when either analyzing or engineering the concept conspiracy theory. In this paper, we present empirical data on the nature of the concept conspiracy theory from five studies designed to test the existence, prevalence and exact form (...)
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  • Capturing the conspiracist’s imagination.Daniel Munro - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (12):3353-3381.
    Some incredibly far-fetched conspiracy theories circulate online these days. For most of us, clear evidence would be required before we’d believe these extraordinary theories. Yet, conspiracists often cite evidence that seems transparently very weak. This is puzzling, since conspiracists often aren’t irrational people who are incapable of rationally processing evidence. I argue that existing accounts of conspiracist belief formation don’t fully address this puzzle. Then, drawing on both philosophical and empirical considerations, I propose a new explanation that appeals to the (...)
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  • Unifying Group Rationality.Matthew Kopec - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6:517-544.
    Various social epistemologists employ what seem to be rather distinct notions of group rationality. In this essay, I offer an account of group rationality that is able to unify the dominant notions present in the literature under a single framework. I argue that if we employ a teleological account of epistemic rationality, and then allow that there are many different epistemic goals that are worth pursuing for various groups and individuals, we can then see how those seemingly divergent understandings of (...)
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  • A critical conceptualization of conspiracy theory.Adam John Koper - forthcoming - Constellations.
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  • I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but...Matthew R. X. Dentith - 2015 - Fortean Times (324):36-39.
    Typical analyses of belief in conspiracy theories have it that identifying as a conspiracy theorist is irrational. However, given that we know conspiracies occur, and theories about said conspiracies can be warranted, should we really be scared of the locution 'I'm a conspiracy theorist...'?
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