On the Harms of Agnotological Practices and How to Address Them

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 36 (3):211-228 (2023)
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Although science is our most reliable producer of knowledge, it can also be used to create ignorance, unjustified doubt, and misinformation. In doing so, agnotological practices result not only in epistemic harms but also in social ones. A way to prevent or minimise such harms is to impede these ignorance-producing practices. In this paper, I explore various challenges to such a proposal. I first argue that reliably identifying agnotological practices in a way that permits the prevention of relevant harms is more difficult than it might appear. I focus on an identifying criterion that many find apt for the task: bad faith motives. I then consider an objection—that reliable criteria are unnecessary to successfully address the concerns raised by agnotological strategies—and I show that it fails. I conclude by exploring other ways of conceptualising the problems attributed to agnotological practices. In particular, I challenge the focus on misinformation as the main problem of concern.

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Inmaculada de Melo-Martin
Weill Cornell Medicine--Cornell University

Citations of this work

Fake Research: How Can We Recognise it and Respond to it?Martin Carrier - 2023 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 36 (3):247-264.

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