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…
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…
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…
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.
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…
Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Brian Garrett
Topics: 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.
Issue: Issue 07 • Author/s: Jaap Hage
Topics: Ontology, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy
In this article, it is argued that rules have two main functions, the practice-defining function and the constraining (fact-to-fact) function. These two functions are compatible. In their function as constraints, some rules are also indirectly regulative. In both of their functions, rules differ from the summaries (rules of thumb) that Rawls discussed and opposed to the constitutive (fact-to-fact) rules which make that some decisions are the right ones. In his work, first on the philosophy of language and later on social ontology, Searle focused on one kind of constitutive rules:…
Issue: Issue 07 • Author/s: Frederick Schauer
Topics: Philosophy of law, Theoretical philosophy
When John Searle observed that there is “no remark without remarkableness,” he made a point about the pragmatics of conversation that is importantly applicable to legal interpretation. Just as the act of remarking, according to Searle, presupposes some reason for the remark, so too does the act of legal interpretation presuppose a reason to interpret. This paper explores this phenomenon, and identifies the distinct occasions that call for an act of interpretation.
Issue: Issue 07 • Author/s: John Searle
Topics: Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy
Regulative rules regulate preexisting forms of behavior, constitutive rules make possible new forms of behavior. They constitute the phenomena they regulate. Brute facts can exist independently of any institutions. Institutional facts require pre-existing institutions, which consist of systems of constitutive rules. Constitutive rules create new forms of reality, with new powers, they typically require language, and they are the basis of human civilization.
Issue: Issue 07 • Author/s: Guglielmo Feis
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of law, Theoretical philosophy
The paper is a critical analysis of Hubert Schwyzer’s idea of meta-institutional concepts. First, I isolate a presupposition in Schwyzer’s example of chess as ritual. I then show how Schwyzer’s idea of meta-institutional concepts is far from being the endgame in the research on levels of institutionality. In fact, we can iterate on meta-institutional concepts. Schwyzer’s idea has to face an infinite regress. I try to avoid such a regress by introducing the concept of technical end of game. A game defines its own terminal status. People playing the game…