Conspiracy theories on the basis of the evidence

Synthese 196 (6):2243-2261 (2019)
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Abstract

Conspiracy theories are often portrayed as unwarranted beliefs, typically supported by suspicious kinds of evidence. Yet contemporary work in Philosophy argues provisional belief in conspiracy theories is—at the very—least understandable (because conspiracies occur) and if we take an evidential approach—judging individual conspiracy theories on their particular merits—belief in such theories turns out to be warranted in a range of cases. Drawing on this work, I examine the kinds of evidence typically associated with conspiracy theories, showing that the evidential problems typically associated with conspiracy theories are not unique to such theories. As such, if there is a problem with the conspiracy theorist’s use of evidence, it is one of principle: is the principle which guides their use of evidence somehow in error? I argue that whatever we might think about conspiracy theories generally, there is no prima facie case for a scepticism of conspiracy theories based purely on their use of evidence.

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M R. X. Dentith
Beijing Normal University

Citations of this work

The seductions of clarity.C. Thi Nguyen - 2021 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 89:227-255.
Suspicious conspiracy theories.M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-14.
Playfulness versus epistemic traps.C. Thi Nguyen - 2022 - In Mark Alfano, Colin Klein & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), Social Virtue Epistemology. Routledge.

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Secrets: on the ethics of concealment and revelation.Sissela Bok - 1982 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Of conspiracy theories.Brian Keeley - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):109-126.

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