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University Study Award for Leah Ritterfeld

Date of news: 9 August 2022

The Study Award is an annual prize for students who have written a thesis of exceptional quality. The theses are written in the previous academic year.

The Study Awards will be presented during the Opening Academic Year on 5 September 2022. The winners of the Study Awards and abstracts of the winning theses are:

Leah Ritterfeld (FFTR)

Conspiracy Theories: Unwarranted Absurdities, Propaganda, or a Specific Way of Holding a Belief?

"For my Master’s thesis, I was curious to investigate the phenomenon of Conspiracy Theories. More specifically, I wanted to know whether we can find criteria with which we may distinguish which conspiracy allegations are absurd, bogus beliefs and which ones are justified allegations of potentially real conspiracies. I suggest that it is helpful to make conceptual distinctions between conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists, and conspiracy theorizing. It is in the latter, in the conspiracy theorizing, that we can pinpoint what is epistemologically problematic: conspiracy theorizing is self-insulating, which means that all possible counterevidence can be reinterpreted as evidence in favor of the theory. With this conceptual distinction and a focus on the practice of  theorizing, I believe we can better explain why it is so difficult to find common ground with conspiracy theorists and why counterarguments and facts don’t appear to be helpful when trying to convince them of the falseness of their belief."

Leah Ritterfeld also received the Jan Brouwer scriptieprijs in philosophy for her thesis.

Read more about the winners from other faculties.