Within the last 10 years historians of science such as Robert Proctor, Londa Schiebinger, Peter Galison, and Naomi Oreskes, have been promoting a new area of enquiry—Proctor calls it agnotology, the study of ignorance—which they suggest is of as much relevance to philosophers and social scientists and others as it is to historians. Indeed, the suggestion is that agnotology offers a new approach to the study of knowledge, an approach at least as complex and important as its more established sister, epistemology. The aim of this workshop is to map out this new ignorance-centered terrain in an effort to determine just what and where it might add to knowledge-centered terrains such as epistemology and philosophy of science and how valuable the additions might be. Topics will range over the naturalness and even inevitability of certain kinds of ignorance and the unnaturalness or deliberate production of other kinds—for example, on ignorance created through government secrecy and censorship, cultural prejudice, industry influence on scientific research, and so on—and the epistemological and societal implications of such ignorance. The ultimate goal is to make a significant contribution to this new kind of enquiry.
Speakers will include historians Norton Wise (UCLA), Naomi Oreskes (San Diego), Peter Galison (Harvard), and Robert Proctor (Stanford); sociologists Peter Weingart (Bielefeld) and Stefan Böschen (Augsburg); neurobiologist Stuart Firestein (Columbia); mathematician/philosopher of science Daniel Andler (Sorbonne); and philosophers Nancy Cartwright (LSE and San Diego), Philip Kitcher (Columbia), Pat Kitcher (Columbia), Hugh Lacey (Swarthmore and São Paulo), Kevin Elliott (South Carolina), Torsten Wilholt (Bielefeld), Martin Carrier (Bielefeld), and Janet Kourany (Notre Dame). The program will also feature a screening of Peter Galison and Robb Moss’s documentary film “Secrecy.”