Prof. Daniel Cohnitz (Univ. Utrecht): On the Rationality of Conspiracy Theories

Datum / Uhrzeit:
09.01.18   /  18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Theoretische Philosophie

24.53.01 Raum 81



Conspiracy theories seem to be on the rise and also seem to play an increasing role in public political discourse. This development is problematic for a variety of reasons, most importantly because widespread belief in conspiracy theories will undermine crucial institutions of open societies. One of the central questions that will need to be answered here if we hope to find out why conspirational thought is recently gaining such support and to find out how to respond to it, is the following: what mindset leads to the belief in conspiracy theories? People who belief in conspiracy theories are often ridiculed as nutcases, tinfoil hats, and paranoid crackpots, while they portray themselves as particularly critical, better informed and enlightened responsible citizens. Finding out which of these characterizations is correct is crucial for coming up with the appropriate response to the rise of conspirational thought. Is the best response logic and argumentation or is it therapy and medication?

In this talk I want to discuss this question and the phenomenon of conspirational thought in two respects. First I want to explain how philosophy, and epistemology in particular is essential for understanding the phenomenon and for developing a strategy to deal with the harmful kind of conspirational thought. Secondly, I want to show how epistemology in turn can learn from studying this phenomenon.



Daniel Cohnitz ist Lehrstuhlinhaber für Theoretische Philosophie an der Universität Utrecht. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpunkten gehören Fragen der Metaphilosophie (die Rolle von Gedankenexperimenten und Intuitionen in der Methodologie der Philosophie), Fragen der Sprachphilosophie (Referenztheorien, Externalismus), die Philosophie der Logik und die Erkenntnistheorie.


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