CONSPIRACY THEORIES, TRUTH, AND THE PANDEMIC
March 18, 2021
Rachel Fraser(University of Oxford), C. Thi Nguyen(University of Utah)
in conversation with Ryan Doody(University of San Diego)
During the Pandemic, many of us have spent a lot of time alone, and a lot of time online. These circumstances seem to have favored the emergence of a range of potent conspiracy theories. Some of these theories pertain to COVID-19 or the vaccination program against it, while others implicate pizza restaurants, popular elections, and cellular broadband technology. These conspiracy theories may have had their origins in shady outposts of the internet, but many of them have since “mainstreamed”, and have been implicated in large-scale political movements, including the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
In this edition of PPE in a Time of a Pandemic, we considered conspiracy theories: what are they, what relation do they bear to truth, how do they take hold of us, how can we free ourselves from them or guard ourselves against them, and what might happen if they acquire significant political backing?
This was a live panel discussion with Professors Rachel Fraser (Oxford University) and C. Thi Nguyen (University of Utah). Professor Fraser works on epistemology, feminist philosophy and the philosophy of language. Her published work appears in journals including Ethics, Philosophical Studies and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. She recently wrote a piece on conspiracy theories for the Cambridge Humanities Review. Professor Nguyen writes on trust, art, and games, and recently published a book: “Games, Agency as Art” (Oxford University Press), as well as complementary papers in the journals Mind, Philosophical Imprint and Philosophical Review. He has a widely cited Aeon piece on online echo chambers.