What is White Ignorance?

The Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
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Abstract

In this paper, I identify a theoretical and political role for ‘white ignorance’, present three alternative accounts of white ignorance, and assess how well each fulfils this role. On the Willful Ignorance View, white ignorance refers to white individuals’ willful ignorance about racial injustice. On the Cognitivist View, white ignorance refers to ignorance resulting from social practices that distribute faulty cognitive resources. On the Structuralist View, white ignorance refers to ignorance that (1) results as part of a social process that systematically gives rise to racial injustice, and (2) is an active player in the process. I argue that, because of its greater power and flexibility, the Structuralist View better explains the patterns of ignorance that we observe, better illuminates the connection to white racial domination, and is overall better suited to the project of ameliorating racial injustice. As such, the Structuralist View should be preferred.

Author's Profile

Annette Martín
University of Illinois, Chicago

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