Volume 32, Issue 2, Fall 2018
Medical Conspiracy Theories and Medical Errors
In this essay, at the epistemological level I focus on groups, and not merely individuals, when examining medical errors on behalf of both the medical industry and patients who engage in medical conspiracy theories. Specifically, I use the work in virtue and vice epistemology by Quassim Cassam and Miranda Fricker to diagnose some of the problems that arise with medical conspiracism. Cassam identifies the vice conspiracist mentality to help explain the preponderance of conspiracy theorizing. Fricker provides a framework for thinking about group errors by identifying the vices of testimonial and hermeneutic injustice. I argue that medical conspiracists present a warped version of Fricker’s vices by acting as if they are the victims of these injustices instead of the purveyors of them. In addition, I argue that errors on behalf of various medical groups, such as hospitals and health organizations, reinforce many conspiracy theories.