•  20638
    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
  •  4935
    In defence of conspiracy theories
    Dissertation, University of Auckland. 2012.
    The purpose of this doctoral project is to explore the epistemic issues surrounding the concept of the conspiracy theory and to advance the analysis and evaluation of the conspiracy theory as a mode of explanation. The candidate is interested in the circumstances under which inferring to the truth or likeliness of a given conspiracy theory is, or is not, warranted.
  •  3737
    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
  •  2588
    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
  •  2537
    An overview of the current epistemic literature concerning conspiracy theories, as well as indications for future research avenues on the topic.
  •  1939
    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.
  •  1611
    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
  •  1556
    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
  •  1472
    When Inferring to a Conspiracy might be the Best Explanation
    Social Epistemology 30 (5-6): 572-591. 2016.
    Conspiracy theories are typically thought to be examples of irrational beliefs, and thus unlikely to be warranted. However, recent work in Philosophy has challenged the claim that belief in conspiracy theories is irrational, showing that in a range of cases, belief in conspiracy theories is warranted. However, it is still often said that conspiracy theories are unlikely relative to non-conspiratorial explanations which account for the same phenomena. However, such arguments turn out to rest upon…Read more
  •  1407
    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.
  •  1139
    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
  •  1129
    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
  •  977
    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
  •  964
    Clearing Up Some Conceptual Confusions About Conspiracy Theory Theorising
    with Martin Orr
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6 (1): 9-16. 2017.
    A reply to Gérald Bronner, Véronique Campion-Vincent, Sylvain Delouvée, Sebastian Dieguez, Nicolas Gauvrit, Anthony Lantian, and Pascal Wagner-Egger's piece, '“They” Respond: Comments on Basham et al.’s “Social Science’s Conspiracy-Theory Panic: Now They Want to Cure Everyone”.
  •  958
    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
  •  949
    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'.
  •  786
    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
  •  638
    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...'?
  •  618
    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.
  •  584
    In Defence of Particularism: A Reply to Stokes
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5 (11): 27-33. 2016.
    A reply to Patrick Stokes' “Between Generalism and Particularism About Conspiracy Theory".
  •  580
    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
  •  569
    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.
  •  533
    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
  •  480
    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
  •  415
    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".
  •  367
    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.
  •  351
    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.
  •  341
    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"
  •  307
    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
  •  223
    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