Sciences, normes, décision - Agnotologie, Genèses de l’ignorance

Sciences, normes, décision

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Agnotologie, Genèses de l’ignorance

par Anne-Sophie Godfroy, Daniel Andler, Guillaume Blot, Marcel Skrobek, Pierre Saurel - publié le , mis à jour le


"Agnotologie, Genèses de l’ignorance" 2ème partie Agnotology, Geneses of Ignorance Colloque international organisé par Daniel Andler (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Martin Carrier (Bielefeld University), Mathias Girel (Ecole normale supérieure) 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 Download the program of the conference : [Program->doc14]

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“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 ? Participants (liste indicative) : Daniel Andler (Paris-Sorbonne) Martin Carrier (Bielefeld, Allemagne) Anne Fagot-Largeault (Collège de France) Mathias Girel (Ecole normale supérieure) Paul Hoyningen-Huene (Hannover, Allemagne) Catherine Laurent (INRA, CNRS) Fabien Mikol (Paris-Sorbonne) Jean-Baptiste Rauzy (Paris-Sorbonne) Jessica Riskin (Stanford University) Paul-André Rosental (Sciences-Po et INED) Federica Russo (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Roy Sorensen (Washington University in St.Louis, USA) David Teira (UNED, Madrid)

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