Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom

Episteme 4 (2):219-232 (2007)

Authors
Charles R. Pigden
University of Otago
Abstract
Abstract Conspiracy theories should be neither believed nor investigated - that is the conventional wisdom. I argue that it is sometimes permissible both to investigate and to believe. Hence this is a dispute in the ethics of belief. I defend epistemic “oughts” that apply in the first instance to belief-forming strategies that are partly under our control. But the beliefforming strategy of not believing conspiracy theories would be a political disaster and the epistemic equivalent of selfmutilation. I discuss several variations of this strategy, interpreting “conspiracy theory” in different ways but conclude that on all these readings, the conventional wisdom is deeply unwise
Keywords conspiracy theories  Karl Popper  rationality  belief-forming strategies  Tony Blair  Iraq War
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2007.4.2.219
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References found in this work BETA

Of Conspiracy Theories.Brian L. Keeley - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):109-126.
Complots of Mischief.Charles Pigden - 2006 - In David Coady (ed.), Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate. Ashgate. pp. 139-166.
Book Review. [REVIEW]Richard Swinburne - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (1):46-53.

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Citations of this work BETA

Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures.Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule - 2009 - Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (2):202-227.
Conspiracy Theories and Reasonable Pluralism.Matej Cíbik & Pavol Hardoš - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488511989923.
Should Academics Debunk Conspiracy Theories?Kurtis Hagen - forthcoming - Social Epistemology:1-17.

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