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Read several contributions in the special issue on 'Absences' in Social Epistemology. The issue was edited by Brian Rappert and Wenda K. Bauchspies. Contributors include Dimitris Papadopoulos, Brian Rappert, Wenda K. Bauchspies, Marıa Puig de la Bellacasa, Jennifer Croissant, and Scott Frickel.

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies co-edited by Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey

Available in print and kindle formats


Free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) 'Ignorance!' starts June 23, 2015 and the second will start on September 22, 2015.





Doubt, Ignorance and Science. New Perspectives on Knowledge. December 2-3, 2013.

Le Doute, l'Ignorance, la Science les 2 et 3 décembre 2013.

Located at: Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France, 45 Ulm Street, Salle des Actes.

Presenters include Stuart Firestein, Matthias Gross, Nathalie Jas, Didier Thorny, Albert Ogien, Naomi Oreskes, Michael Williams, Mathias Girel, Koen Vermeir, Linsey McGoey, Laura Maxim, and Jean-Noel Jouzel. Presentations will be in English and in French

Depuis le début des années 2000, de nombreux travaux, parfois regroupés sous la rubrique « agnotologique », ont donné une nouvelle vigueur à une approche déjà bien ancrée en épistémologie sociale. Ils ont ainsi exploré différents processus de production de l’ignorance à l’égard des sciences : qu’il s’agisse des manières de retirer des prémisses de la connaissance de l’espace public (thématique du secret), de mettre en cause la certitude scientifique (thématique des « marchands de doute »), ou de mettre en concurrence les normes de la production de la connaissance scientifique avec d’autres normes, épistémiques ou sociales. Le projet PEPS PSL « L’ignorance construite » a ainsi exploré divers terrains à l’occasion de plusieurs opérations en 2012 et 2013 : la pression commerciale sur la recherche, la pression juridique sur l’expertise, la pression éthico-théologique sur l’enseignement. Le présent atelier entend approfondir ce premier travail de trois façons, entrecroisant la réflexion fondamentale et l’échange entre chercheurs de sciences humaines et de sciences de la nature et de la vie : 1°) En revenant sur la notion d’ignorance elle-même, et ses diverses formes. 2°) En revenant sur le doute et les notions connexes de scepticisme, de relativisme et de confiance. 3°) En revenant sur ce qui a « bougé » depuis la première vague de travaux agnotologiques. Quelle peut être aujourd’hui la portée d’une réflexion commune sur nos doutes et nos ignorances pour la place des sciences dans la Cité ? Les sciences humaines ne sont plus en position de spectatrices ou d’archivistes : elles sont saisies par ces débats, et doublement. Parce que leurs arguments ont une vie propre, dans des débats sur les sciences, et que cet usage les regarde ; parce que la connaissance qu’elles élaborent en commun appelle, pour échapper aux « fauteurs de doute », tout l’ensemble de leurs ressources, dans un échange nourri avec les sciences de la nature.

EVENT in ANTHROPOLOGY - 'Cultures of Ignorance' Panel at the 2013 17th World Congress of the IUAES
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Coveners: Jonathan Mair (Manchester University) and Jennifer Diggins (University of Sussex)

It is nothing new for anthropologists to be curious about things that for us, as outsiders, are hidden from view. In Melanesia and West Africa, where concealed ritual practices central in customary politics, “secrecy” has long been an ethnographic preoccupation. With elaborate systems of esoteric knowledge, these regions have proved particularly fertile ground for western scholars with a poetic preference for the other-worldly. However anthropologists have rarely paid attention to an indispensable condition of secret knowledge: the experience of ignorance.

When faced with culturally produced forms of not-knowing, the assumption has often been that we should set out to pierce that ignorance. According to this logic, it is only “by peering behind the facade that we see things as an insider rather than as outsiders and thereby discover the truth” (Gable 1997: 215). But does uncovering ‘hidden truth’ risk distorting the way in which our interlocutors experience (not)knowing in their daily lives?

This panel features contributions which explore the question of ignorance from exactly the opposite direction; beginning with the recognition that ethnographers are often far from being the only people on the “wrong” side of this knowledge facade. The discussion will contribute to a small but growing body of work (reviews in Mair, Kelly & High 2012; McGoey 2012) that aims to take ignorance seriously – not simply as the absence of knowledge, but as an ethnographic object in its own right.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY EVENT - A Multidisciplinary Symposium on Blinding as a Solution to Institutional Corruption
at Harvard University
November 1-2, 2013

With the support of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Christopher Robertson (James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona) and Aaron Kesselheim (Harvard Medical School) are organizing a multidisciplinary symposium to examine potential solutions to institutional corruption that use the strategy of concealing biasing information from decision makers.

This event is part of the Institutional Corruption Lab. Larry Lessig (Safra Center Director and Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School) has defined ‘institutional corruption’ as the consequence of an influence within an economy of influence that illegitimately weakens the effectiveness of an institution especially by weakening the public trust of the institution. The concept provides a more systematic approach to decision-making problems that can arise as a result of financial relationships and other conflicts of interest.

Institutional corruption may arise in many contexts, from medical research to forensic science, from political campaign finance to financial auditing. There are many potential solutions to institutional corruption, but we are particularly interested in practical mechanisms that acknowledge the existence of potential influences, but prevent that biasing information from reaching a decision maker. Such mechanisms may include blinding, masking, placebos, strategic ignorance, information aversion, veil of ignorance rules, blind trusts, walls of separation, or similar concepts. We are interested in reviews of relevant literature, and new laboratory, empirical, historical, and theoretical research that explores the functions, modalities, costs, benefits, and limitations of concealing a source of information to improve decision making. We are interested in established uses of blinding, and potential new applications.

We welcome contributions that have been previously published, as well works in progress. We plan for this symposium to generate collaborative research opportunities, and anticipate publishing many of the presented works in an edited volume from a major academic book press or journal. For more details visit the CFP blog entry Proposal Deadline was February 15, 2013 - PDF.

EVENT in PHILOSOPHY - "Agnotologie, Genèses de l'ignorance" 2ème partie
Agnotology, Geneses of Ignorance

June 13-15, 2013 / 13-15 juin 2013, à la Maison de la Recherche de l'Université Paris IV-Sorbonne et à l'ENS de la rue d'Ulm
Colloque international organisé par Daniel Andler (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Martin Carrier (Bielefeld University), Mathias Girel (Ecole normale supérieure)

Geneses of Ignorance“Agnotology,” the study of the production and preservation of ignorance, is a field identified by Robert Proctor twenty years ago. The pioneers of agnotology were keen to uncover and denounce the intentional manufacture and purposeful perpetuation of ignorance. The original focus of the field concerned the maneuvers of corporate or political bodies aimed at nourishing doubt concerning scientific findings so as to block political action and to facilitate profitable yet deleterious consumption (tobacco, sugar..) or industrial practices (asbestos, dioxin…). Trade or military secrets constitute yet another mechanism of willful ignorance.

Agnotology is the downside of epistemology: it studies the conceptual basis and social-historical genesis of ignorance, just as epistemology does with respect to knowledge. However, the symmetry is not perfect, for manufacturers of ignorance are seldom led to generate knowledge, while producers of knowledge are surrounded by pools of ignorance, both left out of their reach or generated in the very process of knowledge acquisition. Indeed, perpetrators of willful ignorance piggy-back on the ‘natural’ production by science of ignorance.

An international conference organized by Martin Carrier at ZiF Bielefeld in June 2011 was mainly devoted to the original theme and motivation of agnotology. The present proposal is to widen the perspective to the geneses of ignorance, with or without malign intent, and to enlist the resources of philosophy in order to clarify the status and dynamics of ignorance, in the social context of an increasing emphasis on the production and dissemination of knowledge. Some of the well-identified issues in epistemology are: transcendental relations (in the Kantian sense), cognitive limitations, semantic incommensurability. Social epistemology suggests further relevant issues, such as the social functions of, and the right to ignorance, or again “ignorance in the field”, i.e. the impoverished epistemic state that is inherent to the situation of the engaged, hands-on end-user (school teacher, physician, farmer, politician, industrialist…): what is the appropriate handling of that sort of ignorance? Can science, and society, alleviate the problem, and how?

''Ignorance by Design: Rethinking Knowledge, Anti-knowledge and the Unknown in STS' - Co-Organized by Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey, panel at the 4S/EASST Joint Meeting Design and Displacement, Copenhagen, October 17-20, 2012.
2nd ISA Forum of Sociology in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 2013 'Beyond Risk: Governing Unknowns' - Organized by Matthias Gross, under the guise of the International Sociological Association (ISA) Research Committee on Sociology of Science and Technology (RC23), at the Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 1-4, 2012.
Regimes of Ignorance Anthropological Perspectives on the Reproduction of Non-Knowledge - Workshop organized by Roy Dilley and Thomas G. Kirsch Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz. 1st to 2nd August 2012.
Sociology of Ignorance - La sociologie de l'ignorance - Soziologie des Nichtwissens

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