Suspicious conspiracy theories

Synthese 200 (3):1-14 (2022)
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Abstract

Conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists have been accused of a great many sins, but are the conspiracy theories conspiracy theorists believe epistemically problematic? Well, according to some recent work, yes, they are. Yet a number of other philosophers like Brian L. Keeley, Charles Pigden, Kurtis Hagen, Lee Basham, and the like have argued ‘No!’ I will argue that there are features of certain conspiracy theories which license suspicion of such theories. I will also argue that these features only license a limited suspicion of these conspiracy theories, and thus we need to be careful about generalising from such suspicions to a view of the warrant of conspiracy theories more generally. To understand why, we need to get to the bottom of what exactly makes us suspicious of certain conspiracy theories, and how being suspicious of a conspiracy theory does not always tell us anything about how likely the theory in question is to be false.

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M R. X. Dentith
Beijing Normal University

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