Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Juha Räikkä in Issue 6

Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories: An Introduction [Special Issue]


The philosophical interest in political conspiracy theories is a rather recent phenomenon. Although philosophers have always been interested in conspiracies—Niccolò Machiavelli and David Hume, for example, studied them—not much has been written about conspiracy theories. However, conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorizing have recently gathered a considerable amount of attention among a number of disciplines, including philosophy, sociology, history, law, psychology and political science. This special issue of Argumenta delves into…

Stephan Lewandowsky, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Scott Brophy in Issue 6

When THUNCing Trumps Thinking: What Distant Alternative Worlds Can Tell Us About the Real World [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Ethics, Political philosophy

By and large, our cognition is a truth-tracking device. There is much evidence that people’s cognition can be optimal in many circumstances. Non-conventional forms of cognition, such as conspiracist ideation and belief in the paranormal, are considered less suited as a reality-tracking device. We suggest that actual conspiracies are preferentially identified by conventional cognition, whereas non-existent conspiracies that are the objects of conspiracy theories fall within the domain of conspiracist…

Joseph E. Uscinski in Issue 6

The Study of Conspiracy Theories [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Ethics, Political philosophy

The study of conspiracy theories has undergone a drastic transformation in the last decade. While early scholarly treatments relied on historical cases and cultural analyses, more recent works focus on the individuals who subscribe either to specific conspiracy beliefs or to more generalized conspiratorial thinking. This shift in focus presents scholars with an opportunity to learn more about how and why conspiracy theories gain followers. But also, this new focus…

Philippe Huneman, Marion Vorms in Issue 6

Is a Unified Account of Conspiracy Theories Possible? [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Ethics, Theoretical philosophy

This paper proposes a critical assessment of the concept of “conspiracy theory” as a coherent object of investigation, and evaluates the prospects for an integration of various avenues of research—sociological, epistemological, psychological—that deal with it. Because of the threat posed by conspiracy theories to public health and political stability, academic efforts to understand the sociological and cognitive basis for the adoption of such views, as well as their epistemological flaws,…

Lee Basham in Issue 6

Joining the Conspiracy [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Accompanying the accusation of malevolent political conspiracy is the accusation of cover-up of these conspiracies by leading institutions of public information; mass media and national law enforcement. A common response to this accusation is that these institutions of public information will reliably reveal such political conspiracies, not cover them up. Unfortunately, the best arguments for this hope are now widely recognized to fail. Further, cover-up does not require descending control…

David Coady in Issue 6

Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule on Conspiracy Theories [Special Issue]

Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

I criticise Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule’s influential critique of conspiracy theories in “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures”. I argue that their position depends on an equivocation over the meaning of the term ‘conspiracy theory’. This equivocation reflects a widespread assumption that conspiracy theories tend to be false, unjustified and harmful, and that, as a result, we can speak as if all conspiracy theories are objectionable in each of these…

Kurtis Hagen in Issue 6

Conspiracy Theorists and Monological Belief Systems [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Meta-Philosophy, Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Recent scholarship has claimed to show that conspiracy theorists are prone to simultaneously believe mutually contradictory conspiracy theories, as well as believe entirely made up conspiracy theories. The authors of those studies suggest that this supports the notion that conspiracy theories operate within “monological belief systems”, in which conspiracy theorists find support for conspiratorial beliefs in other conspiratorial beliefs, or in related generalizations, rather than in evidence directly relevant to…

Matthew Dentith in Issue 6

The Problem of Conspiracism [Special Issue]

Epistemology, Philosophy of language, Political philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

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 commonly…

Brian Garrett in Issue 6

Dummett on McTaggart’s Proof of the Unreality of Time

History of Analytic Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

Michael Dummett’s paper “A Defence of McTaggart’s Proof of the Unreality of Time” put forward an ingenious interpretation of McTaggart’s famous proof. My aim in this discussion is not to assess the cogency of McTaggart’s reasoning, but to criticise Dummett’s interpretation of McTaggart.

Michele Paolini Paoletti in Issue 6

There Could Be a Light that Never Goes Out: The Metaphysical Possibility of Disembodied Existence

Epistemology, Metaphysics, Theoretical philosophy

According to many philosophers, even if it is metaphysically possible that I exist without my present body or without my present brain, it is not metaphysically possible that I exist without any physical support. Thus, it is not metaphysically possible that I exist in some afterlife world, where I do not have any physical support. I shall argue against such a thesis by distinguishing two different notions of physical and…