Conspiracy Theory: Ethics vs Epistemology

Part of the IDEA Research Seminar series. Online only event.

Speaker: Patrick Stokes (Deakin University)

There has been a proliferation of work on the topic of conspiracy theory belief in the social sciences and psychology, and this is true of philosophy too. However the work in philosophy has been noticeably different: philosophers have mostly discussed conspiracy theory as an epistemological category, rather than a concerning social phenomenon, and have largely (though not universally) concluded there is nothing inherently wrong with conspiracy theories as a class of explanation. In this talk I’ll outline some of the ways in which the ethical dimension of conspiracy theorising as a practice have been discussed in the literature to date, and suggest that this does not go far enough: a purely epistemological account of conspiracy theory misses the moral costs of accusation and the normativity of trust that make conspiracy theory a problem.

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