In this paper, I borrow Neil Levy’s account of bad beliefs as a starting point to discuss how the social turn in epistemology affects our understanding of the formation, persistence, and spreading of conspiracy beliefs. Despite the recent convergence of philosophers and psychologists on the importance of studying the social dimensions of cognition, current models of conspiracy beliefs differ substantially as to the role that agents have in adopting and maintaining conspiracy beliefs. As a result, the proposals also differ in the remedial strategies they recommend. Here I endorse an integrative approach, which I call “agency in context”, combining explanations of bad believing in terms of the agent’s cognitive habits and information processing with societal failures in providing the support agents need to recognize marks of epistemic authority in sources of information and acquire the critical skills for the evaluation of competing explanations.
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