Synthese:1-15 (forthcoming)

Authors
M R. X. Dentith
University of Waikato
Abstract
In this paper I interrogate the notion of `debunking conspiracy theories’, arguing that the term `debunk’ carries with it pejorative implications, given that the verb `to debunk’ is commonly understood as `to show the wrongness of a thing or concept’. As such, the notion of `debunking conspiracy theories’ builds in the notion that such theories are not just wrong but ought to be shown as being wrong. I argue that we should avoid the term `debunk’ and focus on investigating conspiracy theories. Looking at recent research work in epistemology on conspiracy theory, I argue that the best way to avoid talk of `debunking’ conspiracy theories is by working with a non-pejorative definition of `conspiracy theory’, and forming communities of inquiry which allow us to investigate the warrant of such theories without the prejudice associated with working with a pejorative definition.
Keywords community of inquiry  social epistemology  conspiracy theory theory  conspiracy theory  conspiracy
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02694-0
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