Scientific ignorance: Probing the limits of scientific research and knowledge production

Manuela Fernández Pinto

Abstract


The aim of the paper is to clarify the concept of scientific ignorance: what is it, what are its sources, and when is it epistemically detrimental for science. I present a taxonomy of scientific ignorance, distinguishing between intrinsic and extrinsic sources. I argue that the latter can create a detrimental epistemic gap, which have significant epistemic and social consequences. I provide three examples from medical research to illustrate this point. To conclude, I claim that while some types of scientific ignorance are inevitable and even desirable, other types of scientific ignorance are epistemically and ethically flawed and should be prevented. 


Keywords


scientific ignorance, agnotology, wishful thinking, selective ignorance, medical research

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.19329