2 février / February 2nd, 3:30 – 5:30pm
Martin Carrier, University of Bielefeld
“Agnotological Challenges: How to Capture the Production of Ignorance”
Philosophy seminar room #927, 9th floor, Leacock building, McGill University (PLAN/MAP)
Agnotology concerns the creation and preservation of confusion and ignorance. Certain positions are advocated in order to promote economic, political, or metaphysical interests with the result of creating mock controversies or maintaining unjustified agreement. I propose to identify agnotological ploys by the discrepancy between the conclusions suggested by the design of the study at hand and the conclusions actually drawn or intimated. Agnotological ploys are characterized by the unrecognized difference between those issues for which a study is sensitive and those issues that feature in its interpretation. This mechanism of “false advertising” serves to implement agnotological endeavors without having to invoke the motivations of the relevant agents. I discuss three agnotological cases, i.e., studies on bisphenol A, Bt-maize/Roundup, and Oslo’s airport Gardermoen. Agnotological challenges are best met by transparency and plurality. The former requires recognizing the partial character of a study and the latter encourages conducting a different study so as to achieve a more balanced picture. The identification of agnotological moves serves to curb the manifold of contrasting assumptions that characteristically goes along with pluralism. Identifying agnotological endeavors is a means for weeding out approaches that look fitting at first glance, but are blatantly inappropriate, in fact. Pinpointing agnotological endeavors helps transform a pluralist manifold into a manageable range of alternatives.