ISBN: 9780262363273 | 398 pp. | March 2021

Deliberate Ignorance

Choosing Not to Know

The history of intellectual thought abounds with claims that knowledge is valued and sought, yet individuals and groups often choose not to know. We call the conscious choice not to seek or use knowledge (or information) deliberate ignorance. 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? In this book, psychologists, economists, historians, computer scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and legal scholars explore the scope of deliberate ignorance.

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.


Sarah Auster, Benjamin E. Berkman, Felix Bierbrauer, Gordon D. A. Brown, Jason Dana, Stefanie Egidy, Dagmar Ellerbrock, Christoph Engel, Jens Frankenreiter, Simon Gächter, Gerd Gigerenzer, Russell Golman, Krishna P. Gummadi, Kristin Hagel, David Hagmann, Ulrike Hahn, Ralph Hertwig, Christian Hilbe, Derek M. Isaacowitz, Anne Kandler, Yaakov Kareev, Lewis A. Kornhauser, Joachim I. Krueger, Christina Leuker, Stephan Lewandowsky, Robert J. MacCoun, Richard McElreath, Thorsten Pachur, Peter J. Richerson, Lael J. Schooler, Laura Schmid, Barry Schwartz, Nora Szech, Eric Talley, Doron Teichman, Pete C. Trimmer, Sonja Utz, Lukasz Walasek, Michael R. Waldmann, Peter Wehling, Roi Yair, Eyal Zamir


Table of Contents

  1. List of Contributors
  2. Preface
  3. The Phenomenon
  4. 1. Homo Ignorans: Deliberately Choosing Not to Know

    Ralph Hertwig, Christoph Engel

  5. 2. The Complex Dynamics of Deliberate Ignorance and the Desire to Know in Times of Transformation: The Case of Germany

    Dagmar Ellerbrock, Ralph Hertwig

  6. 3. Utilizing Strategic Ignorance in Negotiations

    Sarah Auster, Jason Dana

  7. 4. Blinding to Remove Biases in Science and Society

    Robert J. MacCoun

  8. Deep Structure
  9. 5. The Deep Structure of Deliberate Ignorance: Mapping the Terrain

    Barry Schwartz, Peter J. Richerson, Benjamin E. Berkman, Jens Frankenreiter, David Jagmann, Derek M. Isaacowitz, Thorsten Pachur, Lael J. Schooler, Peter Wehling

  10. 6. How Forgetting Aids Homo Ignorans

    Lael J. Schooler

  11. 7. Willful Construction of Ignorance: A Tale of Two Ontologies

    Stephan Lewandowsky

  12. Models
  13. 8. Models of Deliberate Ignorance in Individual Choice

    Gordon D. A. Brown, Lukasz Walasek

  14. 9. The Evolution of Deliberate Ignorance in Strategic Interaction

    Christian Hilbe, Laura Schmid

  15. 10. The Zoo of Models of Deliberate Ignorance

    Pete C. Trimmer, Richard McElreath, Sarah Auster, Gordon D.A. Brown, Jason Dana, Gerd Gigerenzer, Russell Golman, Christian Hilbe, Anne Kandler, Yaakov Kareev, Lael J. Schooler, Nora Szech

  16. Norms
  17. 11. Harry Potter and the Welfare of the Willfully Blinded

    Felix Bierbrauer

  18. 12. Is There a Right Not to Know Genetic Information about Oneself?

    Benjamin E. Berkman

  19. 13. Reflections on Deliberate Ignorance

    Lewis A. Kornhauser

  20. 14. Normative Implications of Deliberate Ignorance

    Joachim I. Krueger, Ulrike Hahn, Dagmar Ellerbrock, Simon Gächter, Ralph Hertwig, Lewis A. Kornhauser, Christina Leuker, Nora Szech, Michael R. Waldman

  21. Institutions
  22. 15. Institutions Promoting or Countering Deliberate Ignorance

    Doron Teichman, Erich Talley, Stefanie Egidy, Christoph Engel, Krishna P. Gummadi, Kristin Hagel, Stephan Lewandowski, Robert J. MacCoun, Sonja Utz, Eyal Zamir

  23. 16. Deliberate Ignorance and the Law

    Eyal Zamir, Roi Yair

  24. 17. Deliberate Ignorance: Present and Future

    Christoph Engel, Ralph Hertwig

  25. Bibliography
  26. Subject Index
  27. Strüngmann Forum Report Series