Once treated as the absence of knowledge, ignorance today has become a highly influential topic in its own right, commanding growing attention across the natural and social sciences where a wide range of scholars have begun to explore the social life and political issues involved in the distribution and strategic use of not knowing. The field is growing fast and this handbook reflects this interdisciplinary field of study by drawing contributions from economics, sociology, history, philosophy, cultural studies, anthropology, feminist studies, and related fields in order to serve as a seminal guide to the political, legal and social uses of ignorance in social and political life.

Chapter 33 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license available here: https://tandfbis.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rt-files/docs/Open+Access+Chapters/9780415718967_oachapter33.pdf

chapter 1|14 pages


part I|59 pages

Historical treatments of ignorance in philosophy, literature and the human sciences

chapter 3|10 pages

Learned ignorance

The apophatic tradition of cultivating the virtue of unknowing

chapter 4|8 pages

Literary ignorance

chapter 6|8 pages

From Descartes to Rumsfeld

The rise and decline of ignorance-of-ignorance

chapter 7|13 pages

The anatomy of ignorance

Diagnoses from literature

part II|63 pages

Registering the unknown

chapter 11|8 pages

Expect the unexpected

Experimental music, or the ignorance of sound design

chapter 12|9 pages

Purveyors of ignorance

Journalists as agents in the social construction of scientific ignorance

chapter 13|11 pages

Ignorance and the brain

Are there distinct kinds of unknowns?

chapter 14|13 pages

Linguistics and ignorance

part III|76 pages

Valuing and managing the unknown in science, technology and medicine

chapter 15|14 pages

Undone science and social movements

A review and typology

chapter 16|10 pages


For better or worse, a source of ignorance as well as knowledge

chapter 18|9 pages

Lost in space

Geographies of ignorance in science and technology studies

chapter 19|9 pages

Ignorance and industry

Agrichemicals and honey bee deaths

chapter 20|7 pages

Doubt, ignorance and trust

On the unwarranted fears raised by the doubt-mongers

chapter 21|7 pages

Decision-making under the condition of uncertainty and non-knowledge

The deliberative turn in genetic counselling

chapter 22|9 pages

Fighting a losing battle?

The right not to know and the dynamics of biomedical knowledge production

part V|105 pages

Ignorance in economic theory, risk management and security studies

chapter 31|11 pages

Governing by ignoring

The production and the function of the under-reporting of farm-workers’ pesticide poisoning in French and Californian regulations

chapter 32|10 pages

To know or not to know?

A note on ignorance as a rhetorical resource in geoengineering debates

chapter 33|10 pages

Unfolding the map

Making knowledge and ignorance mobilization dynamics visible in science evaluation and policymaking

chapter 34|10 pages

Ignorance is strength?

Intelligence, security and national secrets

chapter 37|9 pages

Organizational ignorance

chapter 38|8 pages

Managing with ignorance

The new ideal

chapter 39|7 pages

Fictional reflections: Taking it personally

Medical ignorance

chapter 40|15 pages

Afterword: Ignorance studies

Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary