Conspiracy Theories Are Not Beliefs

Erkenntnis:1-15 (2022)
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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 should not be favored over the Minimalist Account. Furthermore, I propose that the Minimalist Account is the best conception of ‘conspiracy theory’ if we share Napolitano’s goal of advancing the understanding of conspiracy theories.

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Julia Duetz
VU University Amsterdam


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