Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Demystifying Davidson: Radical Interpretation meets Radical Enactivism [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Daniel D. Hutto, Glenda Satne
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Davidson’s signature ideas on the holism and autonomy of propositional thought have led some exegetes to hold that he advances a kind of transcendentalism that is discordant with a satisfactory naturalism. On the other hand, Davidson’s work has strong connections with naturalism, as some Quinean strands of his thinking make apparent. Two strands can thus be identified in Davidson’s thought. One emphasizes features of thought that set it apart from the rest of nature. The otherseeks to locate thought within nature. Taken to extremes these different strands in Davidson’s thinking…

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

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Stephan Lewandowsky, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Scott Brophy
Topics: 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 cognition. We explore the implications of this suggestion through an analysis of President Donald Trump’s Twitter discourse.

The Study of Conspiracy Theories [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Joseph E. Uscinski
Topics: 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 presents dangers which have yet to be fully considered by the psychologists, social-psychologists, and political scientists spearheading the research. In…

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

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Philippe Huneman, Marion Vorms
Topics: 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, are undoubtedly needed. But the preliminary question of the unity, and of the specificity of the class of things called…

Joining the Conspiracy [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Lee Basham
Topics: 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 of the media by conspirators. The problem is much more complex, one endemic to our information hierarchies. This includes the…

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…
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