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Republicans & Conspiracy Theories

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Image Credit During the Trump impeachment hearing some of Trump’s Republican defenders in congress advanced various conspiracy theories. Trump himself is quite the aficionado of conspiracy theories, and is well known for pushing the absurd birtherism.  During her testimony Dr. Fiona Hill pointed out that these theories had been soundly debunked and also chastised the House members who were perpetuating them. While Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have tried to question her credibility, Dr. Hill served under Bush, Obama and (obviously) Trump. She has exceptional credentials and an excellent reputation outside the echo chambers of the right. Given her criticism of Putin, one might suspect that some of the rage against her has been fueled by Russia. There are three main reasons why the pushing of this debunked conspiracy theories is morally problematic. First, they are not true and those who knowingly push them are lying. While one could advance a utilitarian moral argument in favor of lying to achieve ends, pushing these conspiracy theories creates more harm than good—as will be shown in the second and third reasons. Second, having authorities push these debunked conspiracy theories can corrupt the critical faculties of those who accept them. While one could argue that people could compartmentalize their belief forming, it seems more reasonable to hold that those who become habituated to believing conspiracy theories based on rhetoric and fallacies will become more susceptible to bad reasoning in general. This can be seen as analogous to Plato’s arguments about the corrupting influence of art in the Republic. Plato argued that those exposed to art causing feelings such as pity, lust and anger would be more inclined to yield to the negative influences of these emotions in reality. Likewise, those who become habituated to accepting conspiracy theories and rejecting good reasoning will be more inclined to reason badly elsewhere. While people. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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