•  36
    This book presents state of the art philosophical work on conspiracy theory research that brings in sharp focus on central and important insights concerning the supposed irrationality of conspiracy theory and conspiracy theory belief, while also proposing several novel solutions to long standing issues in the broader academic debate on these things called ‘conspiracy theories’. It features a critical history of conspiracy theory theory, emphasising the role of the ‘first generation’ of philosoph…Read more
  • Looking at set of 76 representative articles published by social psychologists between 2017 and 2023 (reviewed between December 2022 and February 2023), I examine the role of motivating examples---a kind of illustrative example, typically used by researchers at the beginning of their work to motivate the issue or problem they want to resolve or address in that work---in the social psychological work on conspiracy theory. Through an examination of the language around how motivating examples are i…Read more
  •  217
    Does the Phrase “Conspiracy Theory” Matter?
    with Ginna Husting and Martin Orr
    Society. 2023.
    Research on conspiracy theories has proliferated since 2016, in part due to the US election of President Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly threatening environmental conditions. In the rush to publication given these concerning social consequences, researchers have increasingly treated as definitive a 2016 paper by Michael Wood (Political Psychology, 37(5), 695–705, 2016) that concludes that the phrase “conspiracy theory” has no negative effect upon people’s willingness to endorse a …Read more
  •  1129
    Some Conspiracy Theories
    Social Epistemology (4): 522-534. 2023.
    A remarkable feature of the philosophical work on conspiracy theory theory has been that most philosophers agree there is nothing inherently problematic about conspiracy theories (AKA the thesis of particularism). Recent work, however, has challenged this consensus view, arguing that there really is something epistemically wrong with conspiracy theorising (AKA generalism). Are particularism and generalism incompatible? By looking at just how much particularists and generalists might have to give…Read more
  •  131
    Looking at the early work in the philosophy of conspiracy theory theory, I put in context the papers in this special issue on new work on conspiracy theory theory (itself the product of the 1st International Conference on the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theory held in February 2022), showing how this new generation of work not only grew out of, but is itself a novel extension of the first generation of philosophical interest in these things called ‘conspiracy theories’.
  •  522
    Reconciling Conceptual Confusions in the Le Monde Debate on Conspiracy Theories, J.C.M. Duetz and M R. X. Dentith
    with Julia Duetz
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 10 (11): 40-50. 2022.
    This reply to an ongoing debate between conspiracy theory researchers from different disciplines exposes the conceptual confusions that underlie some of the disagreements in conspiracy theory research. Reconciling these conceptual confusions is important because conspiracy theories are a multidisciplinary topic and a profound understanding of them requires integrative insights from different fields. Specifically, we distinguish research focussing on conspiracy *theories* (and theorizing) from re…Read more
  •  473
    Avoiding the Stereotyping of the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories: A Reply to Hill
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (8): 41-49. 2022.
    I’m to push back on Hill’s (2022) criticism in four ways. First: we need some context for the debate that occurred in the pages of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective that so concerns Hill. Second: getting precise with our terminology (and not working with stereotypes) is the only theoretically fruitful way to approach the problem of conspiracy theories. Third: I address Hill’s claim there is no evidence George W. Bush or Tony Blair accused their critics, during the build-up the …Read more
  •  1114
    Suspicious conspiracy theories
    Synthese 200 (3): 1-14. 2022.
    Conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists have been accused of a great many sins, but are the conspiracy theories conspiracy theorists believe epistemically problematic? Well, according to some recent work, yes, they are. Yet a number of other philosophers like Brian L. Keeley, Charles Pigden, Kurtis Hagen, Lee Basham, and the like have argued ‘No!’ I will argue that there are features of certain conspiracy theories which license suspicion of such theories. I will also argue that these featur…Read more
  •  3720
    Debunking conspiracy theories
    Synthese 198 (10): 9897-9911. 2020.
    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
  •  602
    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.
  •  70
    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.
  •  782
    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 (because conspiracies occur) 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 typi…Read more
  •  1389
    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.
  •  344
    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 Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman & Littlefield International. 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 Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman & Littlefield International. 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
    In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman & Littlefield International. 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.
  •  7
    Taking conspiracy theories seriously and investigating them
    In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 217-225. 2018.
    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
  •  6
    What particularism about conspiracy theories entails
    In Matthew R. X. Dentith (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 59-69. 2018.
    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
  •  303
    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 a…Read more
  •  340
    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"
  •  411
    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".
  •  578
    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
  •  947
    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
  •  104
    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
  •  1541
    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
  •  1602
    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