Are ‘Conspiracy Theories’ So Unlikely to Be True? A Critique of Quassim Cassam’s Concept of ‘Conspiracy Theories’

Social Epistemology 36 (3):329-343 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The philosopher Quassim Cassam has described a concept called ‘Conspiracy Theories’ (capitalized) that includes several ‘special features’ that distinguish such theories from other theories positing conspiracies. Conspiracy Theories, he argues, are unlikely to be true. Indeed, he implies that they are, as a class of ideas, so unlikely to be true that we are justified in responding to them by criticizing the ideology they are (presumed to be) associated with, rather than engaging them solely on their individual epistemic merits. This article argues that Cassam’s ‘special features’ are ambiguous. Under some interpretations, they are not epistemically problematic. Under other interpretations, they do not fairly describe many of the theories Cassam treats as examples of Conspiracy Theories. In the end, there seems to be no interpretation of these features that would justify the inference that theories Cassam treats as Conspiracy Theories, including JFK Conspiracy Theories, can be reasonably dismissed on account of having these features.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,031

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Conspiracy Theories, Populism, and Epistemic Autonomy.Keith Raymond Harris - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (1):21-36.
Suspicious conspiracy theories.M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-14.
Conspiracy Theories.Quassim Cassam - 2019 - Polity Press.
What particularism about conspiracy theories entails.M. R. X. Dentith - 2018 - In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously. Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 59-69.
Conspiracy Theories, Deplorables, and Defectibility: A Reply to Patrick Stokes.Charles R. Pigden - 2018 - In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously. Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 203-215.
Are Conspiracy Theorists Epistemically Vicious?Charles R. Pigden - 2016 - In Kasper Lippert‐Rasmussen, Kimberley Brownlee & David Coady (eds.), A Companion to Applied Philosophy. Chichester, UK: Wiley. pp. 120–132.
Taking conspiracy theories seriously and investigating them.M. R. X. Dentith - 2018 - In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously. Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 217-225.
Conspiracy Theories as Serious Play.Neil Levy - 2022 - Philosophical Topics 50 (2):1-19.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-04-08

Downloads
70 (#239,575)

6 months
27 (#113,742)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kurtis Hagen
University of Hawaii (PhD)

Citations of this work

Suspicious conspiracy theories.M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-14.
Rethinking conspiracy theories.Matthew Shields - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-29.
Genealogical Undermining for Conspiracy Theories.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.
Conspiracy Theories and Democratic Legitimacy.Will Mittendorf - 2023 - Social Epistemology 37 (4):481-493.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Of conspiracy theories.Brian Keeley - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):109-126.
Expertise and Conspiracy Theories.M. R. X. Dentith - 2018 - Social Epistemology 32 (3):196-208.
Popper revisited, or what is wrong with conspiracy theories?Charles Pigden - 1995 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (1):3-34.

View all 15 references / Add more references