, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 741-750

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The New View on Ignorance Undefeated

  • Rik PeelsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Utrecht Email author 


In this paper, I provide a defence of the New View, on which ignorance is lack of true belief rather than lack of knowledge. Pierre Le Morvan has argued that the New View is untenable, partly because it fails to take into account the distinction between propositional and factive ignorance. I argue that propositional ignorance is just a subspecies of factive ignorance and that all the work that needs to be done can be done by using the concept of factive ignorance. I also defend two arguments of mine in favour of the New View against Le Morvan’s criticisms. As to the Linguistic Argument, I point out that the intuitions of the adherent of the New View about cases of true belief that fall short of knowledge are really intuitions about factive rather than propositional ignorance. As to the Excuse Argument, I argue that true belief is exculpatorily relevant: a true belief in a proposition p, where disbelief that p or suspension on p would provide at least a partial excuse, is relevant in that it renders one blameworthy for one’s action, unless further excuses hold. Finally, I reply to two closely related objections that might be levelled against the New View, namely that it seems false that one can reduce one’s ignorance by arbitrarily believing as many propositions as possible and that it seems false that an intellectually conscientious and critical person is more ignorant than an intellectually sloppy and credulous person just because the latter has more true beliefs.


Excuse argument Ignorance Lack of knowledge Lack of true belief Linguistic argument New view Standard view