•  34
    Debunking conspiracy theories
    Synthese 1-15. forthcoming.
    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. L…Read more
  •  153
    The Iniquity of the Conspiracy Inquirers
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 8 (8): 1-11. 2019.
    A reply to “Why ‘Healthy Conspiracy Theories’ Are (Oxy)morons” by Pascal Wagner-Egger, Gérald Bronner, Sylvain Delouvée, Sebastian Dieguez and Nicolas Gauvrit.
  •  26
    In this paper I both summarise the recent volume "Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018) and argue as to why we should investigate conspiracy theories rather than assume they are false or irrational by definition.
  •  88
    Conspiracy theories on the basis of the evidence
    Synthese 196 (6): 2243-2261. 2019.
    Conspiracy theories are often portrayed as unwarranted beliefs, typically supported by suspicious kinds of evidence. Yet contemporary work in Philosophy argues provisional belief in conspiracy theories is—at the very—least understandable and if we take an evidential approach—judging individual conspiracy theories on their particular merits—belief in such theories turns out to be warranted in a range of cases. Drawing on this work, I examine the kinds of evidence typically associated with conspir…Read more
  •  257
    What is fake news?
    University of Bucharest Review (2): 24-34. 2018.
    Talk of fake news is rife in contemporary politics, but what is fake news, and how, if anything, does it differ from news which is fake? I argue that in order to make sense of the phenomenon of fake news, it is necessary to first define it and then show what does and does not fall under the rubric of ‘fake news’. I then go on to argue that fake news is not a new problem. Rather, if there is problem with fake news it is its centrality in contemporary public debate.
  • An analysis of the recent efforts to define what counts as a "conspiracy theory", in which I argue that the philosophical and non-pejorative definition best captures the phenomenon researchers of conspiracy theory wish to interrogate.
  •  1
    Clearing Up Some Conceptual Confusions About Conspiracy Theory Theorizing
    with Martin Orr
    In M. R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 141-153. 2018.
    Orr and Dentith argue that a recurrent problem in much of the wider academic literature on conspiracy theories is either conceptual confusion or a refusal to put theory before practice. Orr and Dentith show that a naive empiricism pervades much of the social science literature when it comes to these things called ‘conspiracy theories’ which not only runs at odds with the philosophical literature but also the general tenor of the social sciences over the latter part of the 20th Century and beyond…Read more
  •  1
    The Psychologists’ Conspiracy Panic: They Seek to Cure Everyone
    with Dr Dr Lee Basham
    In Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 79-93. 2018.
    Basham and Dentith argue that the danger of condemning both conspiracy theorists and their conspiracy theories in a democracy has grave consequences. They argue that we should encourage research into public concerns about influential institutions, especially in cases where a conspiracy has been alleged. Rather than dismiss conspiracy theorising, we should, encourage the politically crucial, historically proven gift of watchfulness in the citizen, and its sometimes necessary, proper and correct e…Read more
  • An introduction to section two, which introduces and summarises two recent critiques of belief in conspiracy theories by social scientists, as well as introducing the various arguments in the section.
  •  1
    Introduction
    In Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman and Littlefield. 2018.
    An introduction to section one, introducing the various arguments in the section, and the common features of the critique of Dentith’s paper, When inferring to a conspiracy theory might be the best explanation.
  •  1
    In this concluding chapter Dentith presents a synthesis of the views on offer, arguing that the various philosophical, sociological and psychology theses defended in this section point towards a necessary reorientation of the literature, one which requires we purge public discourse of the pejorative aspects of the terms ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ and, rather, engage with conspiracy theories as theories (like we do with theories in the Sciences and the Social Sciences) appraisi…Read more
  • In What particularism about conspiracy theories entails Dentith responds to their critics and examines the case for a refined and revised thesis of Particularism, the argument that we should appraise individual and particular conspiracy theories rather than appraise them in light of our views of the class of conspiracy theories generally. Recent work in the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories has presented challenges to Particularism simpliciter (or Naive Particularism). Dentith argues that by fac…Read more
  • A (naive) view of conspiracy as collective action
    Filosofia E Collettività 22 61-71. 2018.
    Conspiracies are, by definition, a group activity; to conspire requires two or more people working together towards some end, typically in secret. Conspirators have intentions; this is borne out by the fact they want some end and are willing to engage in action to achieve. Of course, what these intentions are can be hard to fathom: historians have written a lot about the intentions of the assassins of Julius Caesar, for example; did they want to restore the Republic; was Marcus Brutus lusting af…Read more
  •  97
    Politics, Deception, and Being Self-Deceived (review)
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 8 (4): 38-43. 2019.
    A review of Anna Elisabeth Galeotti's "Political Self-Deception"
  •  82
    Between Forteana and Skepticism (review)
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7 (11): 48-52. 2018.
    A review of Bernard Will's "Believing Weird Things".
  •  236
    Michael Shermer recently attacked Freeman Dyson for putting forward the claim that there might be something in paranormal claims after all. Whilst I agree with Shermer on many points, I do think you can put forward a plausible theory as to why the Natural Sciences may not describe all phenomena, and that the undescribed phenomena might well be called 'paranormal' because of it. In this paper I will put forward the view that the language of the Natural Sciences may not be descriptive of all thing…Read more
  •  411
    Secrecy and conspiracy
    with Martin Orr
    Episteme 15 (4): 433-450. 2017.
    In the literature on conspiracy theories, the least contentious part of the academic discourse would appear to be what we mean by a “conspiracy”: a secretive plot between two or more people toward some end. Yet what, exactly, is the connection between something being a conspiracy and it being secret? Is it possible to conspire without also engaging in secretive behavior? To dissect the role of secrecy in con- spiracies – and thus contribute to the larger debate on the epistemology of conspir- ac…Read more
  •  5
    Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously (edited book)
    Rowman & Littlefield International. 2018.
    The contributors to this volume argue that whilst there is a commonplace superstition conspiracy theories are examples of bad beliefs (and that the kind of people who believe conspiracy theories are typically irrational), many conspiracy theories are rational to believe: the members of the Dewey Commission were right to say that the Moscow Trials of the 1930s were a sham; Woodward and Bernstein were correct to think that Nixon was complicit in the conspiracy to deny any wrongdoing in the Waterga…Read more
  •  564
    The Problem of Conspiracism
    Argumenta 3 (2): 327-343. 2018.
    Belief in conspiracy theories is typically considered irrational, and as a consequence of this, conspiracy theorists––those who dare believe some conspiracy theory––have been charged with a variety of epistemic or psychological failings. Yet recent philosophical work has challenged the view that belief in conspiracy theories should be considered as typically irrational. By performing an intra-group analysis of those people we call “conspiracy theorists”, we find that the problematic traits commo…Read more
  •  772
    Expertise and Conspiracy Theories
    Social Epistemology 32 (3): 196-208. 2018.
    Judging the warrant of conspiracy theories can be difficult, and often we rely upon what the experts tell us when it comes to assessing whether particular conspiracy theories ought to be believed. However, whereas there are recognised experts in the sciences, I argue that only are is no such associated expertise when it comes to the things we call `conspiracy theories,' but that the conspiracy theorist has good reason to be suspicious of the role of expert endorsements when it comes to conspirac…Read more
  •  13683
    The Problem of Fake News
    Public Reason 8 (1-2): 65-79. 2016.
    Looking at the recent spate of claims about “fake news” which appear to be a new feature of political discourse, I argue that fake news presents an interesting problem in epistemology. Te phenomena of fake news trades upon tolerating a certain indiference towards truth, which is sometimes expressed insincerely by political actors. Tis indiference and insincerity, I argue, has been allowed to fourish due to the way in which we have set the terms of the “public” epistemology that maintains what is…Read more
  •  1297
    An overview of the current epistemic literature concerning conspiracy theories, as well as indications for future research avenues on the topic.
  •  889
    Conspiracy theories are often portrayed as unwarranted beliefs, typically supported by suspicious kinds of evidence. Yet contemporary work in Philosophy argues provisional belief in conspiracy theories is at the very least understandable---because conspiracies occur---and that if we take an evidential approach, judging individual conspiracy theories on their particular merits, belief in such theories turns out to be warranted in a range of cases. Drawing on this work, I examine the kinds of evid…Read more
  •  298
    I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but...
    Fortean Times (324): 36-39. 2015.
    Typical analyses of belief in conspiracy theories have it that identifying as a conspiracy theorist is irrational. However, given that we know conspiracies occur, and theories about said conspiracies can be warranted, should we really be scared of the locution 'I'm a conspiracy theorist...'?
  •  840
    Social science's conspiracy theory panic: Now they want to cure everyone
    with Lee Basham
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5 (10): 12-19. 2016.
    A response to a declaration in 'Le Monde', 'Luttons efficacement contre les théories du complot' by Gérald Bronner, Véronique Campion-Vincent, Sylvain Delouvée, Sebastian Dieguez, Karen Douglas, Nicolas Gauvrit, Anthony Lantian, and Pascal Wagner-Egger, published on June the 6th, 2016.
  •  452
    Treating Conspiracy Theories Seriously: A Reply to Basham on Dentith
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5 (9): 1-5. 2016.
    A response to Lee Basham's 'The Need for Accountable Witnesses: A Reply to Dentith'.
  •  243
    The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories
    Palgrave Macmillan. 2014.
    Conspiracy theories are a popular topic of conversation in everyday life but are often frowned upon in academic discussions. Looking at the recent spate of philosophical interest in conspiracy theories, The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories looks at whether the assumption that belief in conspiracy theories is typically irrational is well founded.
  •  224
    Conspiracy Theories and Their Investigator(s)
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6 (4): 4-11. 2017.
    A reply to Patrick Stokes' 'Reluctance and Suspicion'—itself a reply to an early piece by myself replying to Stokes—in which I clarify what it is I intend when talking about how we should investigate conspiracy theories.
  •  640
    Drawing on work by philosophers CAJ Coady and David Coady on the epistemology of rumours, I develop a theory which exploits the distinction between rumouring and rumour-mongering for the purpose of explaining why we should treat rumours as a species of justified belief. Whilst it is true that rumour-mongering, the act of passing on a rumour maliciously, presents a pathology of the normally reliable transmission of rumours, I will argue that rumours themselves have a generally reliable transmissi…Read more