Deliberate Ignorance: Choosing Not to Know

February 04, 2021

From Strüngmann Forum Reports

Why do people choose not to know and when it is legitimate to do so?

Hertwig, R., & Engel, C. (Eds.). (2020). Deliberate ignorance: Choosing not to know. MIT Press.

The history of intellectual thought abounds with claims that knowledge is valued and sought, yet individuals and groups often choose not to know. The conscious choice not to seek or use information is called deliberate ignorance.

In this book, edited by Ralph Hertwig and Christoph Engel, psychologists, economists, historians, computer scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and legal scholars explore the scope of deliberate ignorance. Why do people consciously choose not to know? When is this a virtue, when is it a vice, and what can be learned from formally modeling the underlying motives? On which normative grounds can it be judged? Which institutional interventions can promote or prevent it?

Drawing from multiple examples, including the right not to know in genetic testing, collective amnesia in transformational societies, blind orchestral auditions, and “don't ask don't tell” policies, the contributors offer novel insights and outline avenues for future research into this elusive yet fascinating aspect of human nature.

The book is freely available over the Ernst Strüngmann Forum website.

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