Lies, Damn Lies, and Conspiracy Theories (PHI2380.02)

Catherine McKeen

QAnon, Pizzagate, The Big Lie, “crisis actors,” climate change denialism, pandemic anti-vaxxers. The epistemic landscape of the early 21st century is marked, perhaps more than any other time in recent memory, by fast-spreading misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories. So much so that the newsmagazine Politico recently declared: We are living in a “Golden Age” of conspiracy theories. Given the prevalence of “bad beliefs,” how do we form “good beliefs”? What does it mean to be an ethical epistemic agent? How do we figure out what is reasonable to believe? What are our responsibilities as thinkers and believers? How do we address credibility gaps in who is believed? This course is interested in these and other questions about the ethics of belief. Why does it matter? This paraphrase from Voltaire may provide an answer: “Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” (Questions sur les miracles, 1765.)

Learning Outcomes:
Learning outcomes
• Ask strong questions, engage thoughtfully with a range of philosophical views
• Analyze philosophical views and arguments
• Develop your ideas in writing using appropriate evidence and support

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
M/Th 3:40PM - 5:30PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Philosophy