Science, Ignorance and Human Values

Journal of Human Values 2 (1):67-81 (1996)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This paper attempts to establish that ignorance is a necessary condition for science to have a purpose, just as it is a precondition for any kind of intentional learning or discovety. The author argues that those who find intrinsic value in science must necessarily attribute positive value to ignorance, for the relationship between the two is symbiotic rather than combative. He presents a number of ways in which scientific ignorance may be positively valued by scientists and non-scientists and lays down a framework for discussing ignorance. He finds accumulating evidence of a shift in scientists' values towards more tolerance of ignorance. The paper concludes by saying that although some trends and currents suggest a swing towards an insistence on certainty, safety and security of political agendas, this does not indicate which way the rest of society is going. The author points out the possibility that at least some sectors of society may be moving towards a realization that many kinds of ignorance are irreducible, and with that, a recognition of the need for scientists to cultivate their particular type of purposive ignorance.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,100

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Ignorance: How It Drives Science.Stuart Firestein - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
In praise of ignorance.L. L. Farrar - 2003 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 15 (3-4):339-346.
Social theories of ignorance.Michael J. Smithson - 2008 - In Robert N. Proctor & Londa Schiebinger (eds.), Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance. Stanford University Press Stanford, California. pp. 209--229.
On Ignorance: A Reply to Peels.Pierre LeMorvan - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (2):335-344.

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-02-02

Downloads
10 (#1,196,476)

6 months
1 (#1,475,085)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Smithson
Australian National University

Citations of this work

Questionable metascience practices.Mark Rubin - 2023 - Journal of Trial and Error 1.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references