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Martin Alcoff, Linda. Epistemologies of Ignorance: Three types
2007, in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana, Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Nick Novelli
Summary: In this chapter, the author considers three main arguments for the epistemology of ignorance, where this thinks of ignorance not as being a feature of a neglectful epistemic practice, yet as being a substantive epistemic practice itself. The author considers the relationship between these three different arguments that, although differing in the way they present the nature of ignorance, she takes to be jointly compatible. In conclusion, she argues that ignorance is not only a problem related to the justificatory practice, yet also to the ontology of truth.

Comment: Alcoff's essay provides a taxonomy of different types of ignorance, and argues that our current epistemology is not adequate to deal with it. This essay would be good as background reading for an epistemology course focusing on the topic of the epistemology of ignorance, since it provides a good overview and explanation of the problems that need to be resolved. Due to its focus on the social and political causes of ignorance, it could also be used as further reading for social epistemology.

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