Conspiracy Theories and Ethics

Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 50:651-659 (2008)
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Abstract

Political conspiracy theorists have done a lot of good in the past; undoubtedly they will do a lot of good in the future too. However, it is important to point out that conspiracy theories may have adverse consequences too. Political conspiracy theorizing, as a public activity, may lead to harmful scapegoating and its implications may be racist and fascist rather than democratic. Conspiracy theories may undermine trust in political institutions. Certain conspiracy theories are kept artificially alive, because of their political effects; “conspiracy theorists” do not always believe in their theories, but repeat them in public because of politicalreasons. Conspiracy theories have close connections to populism, and when theories are accepted widely enough, they remind harmful rumors. Sometimes conspiracy theories are designed and disclosed to make political decision-making more difficult and to create an impression that certain questions are still “open”. Certain conspiracy theories are disguised libels: they place individual persons in a “false light” in the public eye. In my presentation, I aim to discuss the ethics of political conspiracy theorizing and conditions for ethically acceptable conspiracy theorizing

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