Relational Ignorance

Samantha Copeland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter explores ignorance that relates to our ability to fully understand our own role in an epistemic community, specifically in relation to the roles of others. It is an explicitly social approach to ignorance, to the ignorance that shapes our relationships with others, and constrains our ability to know, requiring us to trust. This ignorance is embodied within our relations with one another as epistemic agents; it exists in the space between. Focussing in particular on the ways we regularly extend our cognition by depending on others (or on our tools) to perform steps in our cognitive labour on our behalf, I use an account from relational autonomy theory in feminist bioethics to examine the importance of reliability and its complements, trust and self-trust in these relationships. Further, I look to how such relationships can either cultivate or hinder our epistemic agency and the agency of others, particularly in contexts where there is potential for oppression or collaboration, exploitation or intimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynthese Library
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameSynthese Library
ISSN (Print)0166-6991
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8292


  • Epistemic exploitation
  • Epistemic interdependence
  • Extended mind
  • Relationality


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