- Title Pages
- 1 Down the Rabbit Hole We Go!
- 2 The History of Conspiracy Theory Research
- Section I What Is a Conspiracy Theory?
- 3 What We Mean When We Say “Conspiracy Theory”
- 4 Conspiracy Theory
- 5 Media Marginalization of Racial Minorities
- 6 Conspiracy Theories and Philosophy
- Section II How Do Conspiracy Theorists and Non-Conspiracy Theorists Interact?
- 7 On the Democratic Problem of Conspiracy Politics
- 8 The Politics of Disruption
- 9 Learning about Conspiracy Theories
- 10 In Whose Hands the Future?
- 11 Conspiracy Theory Phobia
- 12 Conspiracy Thinking, Tolerance, and Democracy
- Section III Are Conspiracy Theories “Anti-Science”?
- 13 Don’t Trust the Scientists! Rejecting the Scientific Consensus “Conspiracy”
- 14 Conspiratorial Thinking and Dueling Fact Perceptions
- 15 The Conspiracy Theory Pyramid Scheme
- Section IV What Is the Psychology of Conspiracy Theorizing?
- 16 Conspiracy Theory Psychology
- 17 Conspiracy Rumor Psychology
- 18 The Truth Is Around Here Somewhere
- Section V What Do Conspiracy Theories Look Like in the United States?
- 19 Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History
- 20 Polls, Plots, and Party Politics
- 21 How Conspiracy Theories Spread
- Section VI What Do Conspiracy Theories Look Like Around the World?
- 22 Who Believes in Conspiracy Theories in Great Britain and Europe?
- 23 Why the Powerful (in Weak States) Prefer Conspiracy Theories
- 24 Conspiracy Theories in Post-Soviet Russia
- 25 The Collective Conspiracy Mentality in Poland
- 26 The Conspiratorial Style in Turkish Politics
- 27 The Hidden and the Revealed
- Section VII How Should We Live with Conspiracy Theories?
- 28 Conspiracy Theories and Religion
- 29 The Credulity of Conspiracy Theorists
- 30 Empowerment as a Tool to Reduce Belief in Conspiracy Theories
- 31 Conspiracy Theories for Journalists
Conspiracy Theories and Philosophy
Conspiracy Theories and Philosophy
Bringing the Epistemology of a Freighted Term into the Social Sciences
- (p.94) 6 Conspiracy Theories and Philosophy
- Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
M R. X. Dentith
- Oxford University Press
There has been a recent spate of academic work concerning these things called conspiracy theories. Part of that debate concerns the apparent irrationality of belief in conspiracy theories. I argue that what is missing in the literature is a fulsome analysis of how we define what counts as a conspiracy theory. It turns out that many of our working definitions of conspiracy theory are at odds with one another. The consequence of this definitional diversity is unfortunate for the academic project at large, as—as I will demonstrate—not all definitions of conspiracy theory turn out to be equal. Looking at a broadly representative set of contemporary academic work on conspiracy theories, I argue that we scholars of conspiracy theory often skew the results of our research programs by working with problematic definitions. This can be demonstrated by showing how often the problems associated with belief in conspiracy theories are the result of scholars working with—wittingly or unwittingly—definitions of what counts as a conspiracy theory that presuppose their irrationality. As such, much work on belief in conspiracy theories begs the question. However, there is an easy solution to this endemic problem: we can choose to work with a simple, non-pejorative definition—one which happens to be championed in philosophy—which, in turn, allows us to get to the heart of the question of whether belief in conspiracy theories is, in some sense, problematic.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.