Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


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

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: David Coady
Topics: 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 three ways. I argue that this assumption is itself false, unjustified, and harmful. There are many true, justified, and/or beneficial…

Conspiracy Theorists and Monological Belief Systems [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Kurtis Hagen
Topics: 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 the conspiracy in question. In this article, I argue that all of that is either wrong or at least misleading.

The Problem of Conspiracism [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Matthew Dentith
Topics: 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 ascribed to the general group of conspiracy theorists turn out to be merely a set of stereotypical behaviours and thought…

Reichenbach, Russell and the Metaphysics of Induction

Issue: Issue 08 • Author/s: Michael J. Shaffer
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophical logic

Hans Reichenbach’s pragmatic treatment of the problem of induction in his later works on inductive inference was, and still is, of great interest. However, it has been dismissed as a pseudo-solution and it has been regarded as problematically obscure. This is, in large part, due to the difficulty in understanding exactly what Reichenbach’s solution is supposed to amount to, especially as it appears to offer no response to the inductive skeptic. For entirely different reasons, the significance of Bertrand Russell’s classic attempt to solve Hume’s problem is also both obscure…

Unjust Food Systems and Applied Mereology [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 10 • Author/s: Shane Epting
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology

Conventional food systems are highly complex entities with numerous components that span the globe. Having an overabundance of parts creates ‘globalized opacity’, a condition wherein the sheer number of parts makes it incredibly challenging to see how these parts fit together. In turn, people cannot see how these systems help create and perpetuate social injustices in select instances. With this notion in mind, it should be no surprise that numerous issues require mitigation. Gaining a clear view of the nature of such problems could improve how food-justice researchers understand the…

Local Food as Social Change: Food Sovereignty as a Radical New Ontology [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 10 • Author/s: Samantha Noll
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology

Local food projects are steadily becoming a part of contemporary food systems and take on many forms. They are typically analyzed using an ethical, or socio-political, lens. Food focused initiatives can be understood as strategies to achieve ethical change in food systems and, as such, ethics play a guiding role. But local food is also a social movement and, thus social and political theories provide unique insights during analysis. This paper begins with the position that ontology should play a more prominent part in the analysis of local food movements,…

Food, Food Substitutes and Food Supplements [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 10 • Author/s: Helena Siipi
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology

Distinguishing between food, food substitutes and supplements is common in everyday life and academic work. The aim of this paper is to analyze this distinction. The question is approached from the point of view of functions. The hypothesis reads as follows: “Food has several nutritional, culinary, social, cultural, aesthetic and other functions. These functions are necessary and sufficient for something to be food. Food substitutes and supplements, serve some, but not many, functions of food. Thus, food substitutes and supplements are not food”. The contemplations of the paper speak against…

Unlocking Limits [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: James Nguyen, Roman Frigg
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

In a series of recent papers we have developed what we call the DEKI account of scientific representation, according to which models represent their targets via keys. These keys provide a systematic way to move from model-features to features to be imputed to their targets. We show how keys allow for accurate representation in the presence of idealisation, and further illustrate how investigating them provides novel ways to approach certain currently debated questions in the philosophy of science. To add specificity, we offer a detailed analysis of a kind of…

Fiction, Models and the Problem of the Gap [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Frederick Kroon
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

An increasingly popular view holds that scientific modeling involves something akin to the imaginative construction of a fictional story along with its cast of fictional characters, not just the positing of entities (models) that yield a false but useful representation of their targets. The present paper focuses on the following problem for this view of models. If a model is a fiction how can it possibly be said to represent some aspect of the real world? How can the unreal represent the real, and in a way that allows modelers to…

Learning through the Scientific Imagination [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Fiora Salis
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

Theoretical models are widely held as sources of knowledge of reality. Imagination is vital to their development and to the generation of plausible hypotheses about reality. But how can imagination, which is typically held to be completely free, effectively instruct us about reality? In this paper I argue that the key to answering this question is in constrained uses of imagination. More specifically, I identify make-believe as the right notion of imagination at work in modelling. I propose the first overarching taxonomy of types of constraints on scientific imagination that…
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