Ignorance and Its Disvalue

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
Anne Meylan Philosophisches Seminar, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland

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It is commonly accepted – not only in the philosophical literature but also in daily life – that ignorance is a failure of some sort. As a result, a desideratum of any ontological account of ignorance is that it must be able to explain why there is something wrong with being ignorant of a true proposition. This article shows two things. First, two influential accounts of ignorance – the Knowledge Account and the True Belief Account – do not satisfy this requirement. They fail to provide a satisfying normative account of the badness of ignorance. Second, this article suggests an alternative explanation of what makes ignorance a bad cognitive state. In a nutshell, ignorance is bad because it is the manifestation of a vice, namely, of what Cassam calls “epistemic insouciance”.

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