Episteme 4 (2):181-192 (2007)
AbstractAbstract The typical explanation of an event or process which attracts the label ‘conspiracy theory’ is an explanation that conflicts with the account advanced by the relevant epistemic authorities. I argue that both for the layperson and for the intellectual, it is almost never rational to accept such a conspiracy theory. Knowledge is not merely shallowly social, in the manner recognized by social epistemology, it is also constitutively social: many kinds of knowledge only become accessible thanks to the agent's embedding in an environment that includes other epistemic agents. Moreover, advances in knowledge typically require ongoing immersion in this social environment. But the intellectual who embraces a conspiracy theory risks cutting herself off from this environment, and therefore epistemically disabling herself. Embracing a conspiracy theory therefore places at risk the ability to engage in genuine enquiry, including the enquiry needed properly to evaluate the conspiracy theory
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References found in this work
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Socializing Epistemology: The Social Dimensions of Knowledge.Frederick F. Schmitt (ed.) - 1994 - Rowman & Littlefield.
The Misunderstood Limits of Folk Science: An Illusion of Explanatory Depth.Leonid Rozenblit & Frank Keil - 2002 - Cognitive Science 26 (5):521-562.
Psychological Foundations of Number: Numerical Competence in Human Infants.Karen Wynn - 1998 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2 (8):296-303.
Citations of this work
Conspiracy Theories and Evidential Self-Insulation.M. Giulia Napolitano - 2021 - In Sven Bernecker, Amy Flowerree & Thomas Grundmann (eds.), The Epistemology of Fake News. Oxford University Press. pp. 82-105.
Due Deference to Denialism: Explaining Ordinary People’s Rejection of Established Scientific Findings.Neil Levy - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):313-327.
When Inferring to a Conspiracy Might Be the Best Explanation.Matthew R. X. Dentith - 2016 - Social Epistemology 30 (5-6):572-591.
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