Upcoming lecture & seminar

Associate professor and senior researcher Tomaž Grušovnik, PhD, will be giving an open lecture and two-day seminar about denialism and willful ignorance in May

Open lecture: Avoiding Knowledge and Moral Responsibility: Denialism and Willful Ignorance in Environmental and Animal Ethics

Associate professor Tomaž Grušovnik from University of Primorska will be giving an open lecture on Tuesday, May 17th, 15:00 – 17:00,  at Tampere university´s Virta building, auditorium 109 (Åkerlundinkatu 5).  You can also participate via Zoom. The event link and abstract can be found below. 

Lecture is open to all.

Topic: Avoiding Knowledge and Moral Responsibility: Denialism and Willful Ignorance in Environmental and Animal Ethics

Time: Tuesday, May 17th, 3-5 pm (15:00 – 17:00) 

Venue: Virta Auditorium 109 (Åkerlundinkatu 5) & Zoom

Zoom-link:  https://tuni.zoom.us/j/4710239716 

Avoiding Knowledge and Moral Responsibility: Denialism and Willful Ignorance in Environmental and Animal Ethics

Even though we encounter facts and figures about climate change, environmental degradation, species extinction, as well as animal suffering and death almost on a daily basis, our disbelief and inaction with respect to the existence, extent, and implications of the anthropogenic impact on the environment and non-human lives are widespread. This rather curious phenomenon disproves the so-called “Information-Deficit Model” which assumed a linear relationship between environmental knowledge, awareness, and concern on the one hand, and corresponding behavior on the other. Indeed, it is appropriate to assume that social, cultural, and psychological mechanisms help individuals and societies continue with their lifestyle despite information that indicates detrimental consequences of their actions. Doxastic states such as “Willful ignorance” and “denialism” thus seem to play central role in enabling ideologies such as “carnism.” The lecture will shed light on specific manifestations of these epistemic phenomena in the context of environmental and animal abuse as well as expose some general philosophical issues related to the avoidance of knowledge.  

You can find professor Grušovnik’s publications on the lecture theme here:

Willful ignorance -seminar

Welcome to two-day seminar Willful Ignorance on Wednesday May 18th and Thursday May 19th at 9.00–11.00 am.

Venue: Edu’s Cafe, Virta building (Åkerlundinkatu 5), 3rd floor 

Seminar is mainly targeted to doctoral researchers, but is also open for master’s level students and academic staff. Doctoral researchers can complete 2 credits by participating and returning a study diary. Discuss the inclusion of this seminar into your study plan with your supervisor. For more information about credits contact Antti Saari (antti.saari@tuni.fi)

Seminar requires registration. Please notice, by registering, you agree to attend both seminar meetings. The closing date for registration is May 3rd.

Seminar meetings will be held in the Tampere university Virta building, Edu’s Cafe (Address: Åkerlundinkatu 5 ).

We also expect participants to read preliminary readings (one article manuscript) before seminar meetings. You can find article manuscript, seminar abstracts, and registration form below.

Registration form: https://forms.office.com/r/sfrJm7cr6M

Seminar #1: Wednesday, May 18, 9-11 am (09:00 – 11:00), Edu’s Cafe, Åkerlundinkatu 5. 

Willful Ignorance: Taxonomy and Consistency 

The first in the series of two seminars will cover a presentation and a discussion on the taxonomy and consistency of the concept of “willful ignorance.” Firstly, the doxastic state will try to be defined and delineated from related, albeit also quite different, epistemic phenomenon – denialism. Then, two different kinds of willful ignorance will be analyzed (the one that entails suspicion of avoided proposition p, or willful ignorance proper, and the other that does not entail any suspicions, or “voluntary ignorance”). After this potential paradoxes that seem to arise with willful ignorance will be analyzed (the “static” paradox: simultaneously having a belief that p and a belief that ¬p (or not having a belief that p), and the “dynamic” paradox: the idea that willful ignoring entails not knowing what one wills). Three standard solutions to the paradoxes will be discussed: temporal approach, “split mind” approach, and deflationary approach. Finally, we will try to dispel the supposed (logical) inconsistency of willful ignorance.

Seminar #2: Thursday, May 19, 9-11 am (09:00 – 11:00), Edu’s Cafe, Åkerlundinkatu 5. 

Willful Ignorance: Etiology and Ethics

The second seminar will try to expose causes and reasons for willful ignoring. Firstly, we will try to scrutinize the idea that the basic function of willful ignorance is conservative, i.e. the maintenance of cognitive structures or “cognitive stability.” Here, we will explore the analogy proposed already by Freud, i.e. the similarity between avoidance of knowledge and homeostasis. Next, we will explore different reasons for deliberate ignoring recently proposed by Ralph Hertwig and Christoph Engel (deliberate ignorance as emotion-regulation and regret-avoidance device, as suspense and surprise mechanism, as performance-enhancing device, as strategic device, as impartiality device, and as information-management device. Finally, we will dedicate some time to moral analysis of the epistemic phenomenon: as is already clear, the doxastic state can namely be praise- as well as blameworthy.

Preliminary reading:


Tomaž Grušovnik, PhD, is associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Primorska, Koper, Slovenia. His areas of research include animal ethics, agnotology (science of ignorance), and philosophy of education. He co-edited Borders and Debordering (Lexington, 2017) and Environmental and Animal Abuse Denial (Lexington, 2020), as well as authored seven books in Slovenian. He was a Fulbright visiting colleague at the University of New Mexico, USA (2009) and guest lecturer at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo (2011). He received several prizes, including the national Prometheus of Science prize (2021). Between 2018 and 2020 he served as the president of Slovenian philosophical society. Currently he heads Centre for Arts at the Faculty of Education, University of Primorska, as well as the national baccalaureate commission for philosophy.

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