Alethische und Narrative Modelle von Verschwörungstheorien

Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 9 (2):143-174 (2023)
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The aim of this paper is to create dialectical space for a hitherto under-discussed option in the philosophy of conspiracy theories. The extant literature on the topic almost exclusively assumes that conspiracy theories are a type of explanation. The typical mental attitude towards explanations is belief, a representational attitude that can be assessed as true, false, warranted or unwarranted. I call models based on this assumption alethic models. Alethic models can’t pick out conspiracy theories as a distinct class of mental attitudes without latching onto their negative epistemic properties. The extant literature therefore finds itself in an unfortunate situation. It either has to presume that conspiracy theories are epistemically defective in general (generalism). Or it has to deny that conspiracy theories are a distinct class of mental attitudes. Conspiracy theories are then nothing more than theories, theories about conspiracies, and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis (particularism). Instead, this paper motivates the research program of narrative models. According to narrative models, conspiracy theories are first and foremost stories – structured fictions. And their relevant mental attitudes are the attitudes of fiction – make-believe and imagination. Fictions are not subjects to epistemic norms. They are neither rational nor irrational. Narrative models can therefore pick out conspiracy theories as a distinct class of mental attitudes without labeling them as defective in general. In addition, they are able to explain certain features of conspiracy discourse particularly well, and they offer new perspectives on the popularity of conspiracy theories and the means of intervention we have at our disposal.

Author's Profile

David Heering
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


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