Risk aversion and elite‐group ignorance

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1):35-57 (2021)
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Critical race theorists and standpoint epistemologists argue that agents who are members of dominant social groups are often in a state of ignorance about the extent of their social dominance, where this ignorance is explained by these agents' membership in a socially dominant group (e.g., Mills 2007). To illustrate this claim bluntly, it is argued: 1) that many white men do not know the extent of their social dominance, 2) that they remain ignorant as to the extent of their dominant social position even where this information is freely attainable, and 3) that this ignorance is due in part to the fact that they are white men. We argue that on Buchak's (2010, 2013) model of risk averse instrumental rationality, ignorance of one's privileges can be rational. This argument yields a new account of elite-group ignorance, why it may occur, and how it might be alleviated.

Author Profiles

David Kinney
Yale University
Liam Kofi Bright
London School of Economics


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