Epistemic injustice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Epistemic injustice is unfairness related to knowledge.[1] The first systematic theory of epistemic injustice was introduced in 2007 by British philosopher Miranda Fricker, who coined the term.[2] According to Fricker, there are two kinds of epistemic injustice: testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice.[3]

Testimonial injustice[edit]

Testimonial injustice is unfairness related to trusting someone's word. An injustice of this kind occurs when someone is ignored or not believed because of their gender, their race or broadly, because of their identity.[3] Fricker gives the example of Londoner Duwayne Brooks, who witnessed the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence.[1] The police officers who arrived at the scene regarded Brooks with suspicion, a response that was widely criticized. According to an official inquiry, "the officers failed to concentrate upon Mr Brooks and to follow up energetically the information which he gave them. Nobody suggested that he should be used in searches of the area, although he knew where the assailants had last been seen. Nobody appears properly to have tried to calm him, or to accept that what he said was true." That is, the police officers failed to view Brooks as a credible witness, in part due to racial bias. According to Fricker, this was a case of testimonial injustice, which occurs when "prejudice causes a hearer to give a deflated level of credibility to a speaker’s word." Testimonial injustice is often accompanied by hermeneutical injustice.

Hermeneutical injustice[edit]

Hermeneutical injustice is injustice related to how people interpret their lives. (The word 'hermeneutical', which comes from the Greek word for 'interpreter', means 'pertaining to interpretation'.)

In the 1970s, the label "sexual harassment" was introduced to describe something that many people, especially women, had experienced since time immemorial.[2] In accordance to this theory, a woman who was victimized before the coining of this term had difficulty putting their experience into words. This difficulty is said to be the direct result of women's exclusion from shaping their language to reflect their specific realities. Since the coining of the term, victims are potentially more capable of understanding their experiences, but the language that is required to describe or explain it another may still prove elusive. This is also cited as a product of women's exclusion from institutions and industries devoted to making sense of, describing, and explaining human experiences, i.e. journalism, publishing, and academia. Miranda Fricker argues that women's unequal participation in the shaping of the categories through which people understand the world makes some women's lives less intelligible, whether to themselves or to others. Furthermore, this theory can also be applied to the "unintelligible" experiences of other marginalized groups.

Hermeneutical injustice occurs when someone's experiences are not well understood—by themselves or by others—because these experiences do not fit any concepts known to them (or known to others), due to the historic exclusion of some groups of people from activities, such as scholarship and journalism, that shape which concepts become well known.[3]

Further developments[edit]

Other scholars have expanded what the term "epistemic injustice" includes. These contributions have included naming kinds of epistemic injustice such as epistemic oppression,[4] epistemic exploitation,[5] silencing as testimonial quieting and as testimonial smothering,[6] contributory injustice,[7] distributive epistemic injustice[8] , and epistemic trust injustice.[9] José Medina has advocated for an account of epistemic injustice that incorporates more voices and pays attention to context and the relationships at play.[10] Elizabeth S. Anderson has argued that attention should be given to the structural causes and structural remedies of epistemic injustice.[11] A closely related literature on epistemologies of ignorance has also been developing, which has included the identification of overlapping concepts such as white ignorance[12][13] and willful hermeneutical ignorance.[14]

Kristie Dotson has warned that some definitions that could leave out important contributions to the ongoing discussion around epistemic injustice.[15] Gaile Pohlhaus Jr. has replied that the concept should therefore be considered an open one, and many different approaches to the concept should be considered.[2]

History[edit]

The term "epistemic injustice" was not coined until 2007, but Vivian May has argued Sojourner Truth in the 1860s and Anna Julia Cooper in the 1890s anticipated the concept in claiming that Black women are denied full and equal recognition as knowers.[16] Pohlhaus Jr. points to Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak's 1988 essay Can the Subaltern Speak? as another anticipation. In that essay, Spivak describes what she calls epistemic violence occurring when subaltern persons are prevented from speaking for themselves about their own interests because of others claiming to know what those interests are.[17]

In 2017, the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice was published, compiling chapters addressing both the theoretical work on the concept and efforts to apply that theory to practical case studies.[18]

The Indian political theorist Rajeev Bhargava uses the term "epistemic injustice" to describe how colonized groups were wronged when colonizing powers replaced, or negatively impacted, the concepts and categories that colonized groups used to understand themselves and the world.[19]

Selected philosophers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kidd, Ian James; Medina, José; Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile (2017). "Introduction to The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice". In Kidd, Ian James; Medina, José; Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. Routledge. p. 1. doi:10.4324/9781315212043. ISBN 9781138828254. Epistemic injustice refers to those forms of unfair treatment that relate to issues of knowledge, understanding, and participation in communicative practices.
  2. ^ a b Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile (2017). "1: Varieties of Epistemic Injustice". In Kidd, Ian James; Medina, José; Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. Routledge. pp. 13–26. doi:10.4324/9781315212043. ISBN 9781138828254.
  3. ^ a b c Miranda., Fricker (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780198237907. OCLC 729949179.
  4. ^ Dotson, Kristie (2014). "Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression". Social Epistemology. 28 (2): 115–138 doi:10.1080/02691728.2013.782585. ISSN 0269-1728.
  5. ^ Berenstain, Nora, 2016. “Epistemic Exploitation,” Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 3(22). doi:10.3998/ergo.12405314.0003.022
  6. ^ Dotson, Kristie. 2011. "Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing" Hypatia 26 (2): 236-257.
  7. ^ Dotson, Kristie (2012). "A Cautionary Tale: On Limiting Epistemic Oppression". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 33 (1): 24–47. [doi:10.5250/fronjwomestud.33.1.0024.]
  8. ^ Coady, David. 2010. "Two Concepts of Epistemic Injustice" Episteme 7(2): 101-113.
  9. ^ Grasswick, Heidi. 2017. "Epistemic Injustice in Science" in the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice edited by Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr. Routledge. ISBN 9781138828254.
  10. ^ Medina, José (2012). "Hermeneutical Injustice and Polyphonic Contextualism: Social Silences and Shared Hermeneutical Responsibilities". Social Epistemology. 26 (2): 201–220. doi:10.1080/02691728.2011.652214. ISSN 0269-1728.
  11. ^ Anderson, Elizabeth S. (2012). "Epistemic Justice as a Virtue of Social Institutions". Social Epistemology. 26 (2): 163–173. doi:10.1080/02691728.2011.652211. ISSN 0269-1728.
  12. ^ Mills, Charles. 2007. "White Ignorance," in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana (eds), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance (Albany, NY: SUNY Press), Philosophy and Race Series, pp. 13–38
  13. ^ Mills, Charles. 2017. "Ideology" in the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice edited by Kidd, Ian James, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr. Routledge. ISBN 9781138828254.
  14. ^ Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile (2011). "Relational Knowing and Epistemic Injustice: Toward a Theory of Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance". Hypatia. 27 (4): 715–735. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01222.x. ISSN 0887-5367.
  15. ^ Dotson, Kristie (2012). "A Cautionary Tale: On Limiting Epistemic Oppression". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 33 (1): 24–47. doi:10.5250/fronjwomestud.33.1.0024. JSTOR 10.5250/fronjwomestud.33.1.0024.
  16. ^ May, Vivian M. (2013-10-11). ""Speaking into the Void"? Intersectionality Critiques and Epistemic Backlash". Hypatia. 29 (1): 94–112. doi:10.1111/hypa.12060. ISSN 0887-5367.
  17. ^ Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1988), "Can the Subaltern Speak?", Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Macmillan Education UK, pp. 271–313, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-19059-1_20, ISBN 9780333462768
  18. ^ Kidd, Ian James; Medina, José; Pohlhaus Jr., Gaile, eds. (2017). Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315212043. ISBN 9781138828254.
  19. ^ Bhargava, Rajeev. 2013. “Overcoming the Epistemic Injustice of Colonialism.” Global Policy 4 (4): 413–17. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12093.

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Fricker, Miranda (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198237907.
  • Kidd, Ian James, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr. (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. Routledge. ISBN 9781138828254.
  • Medina, José (2013). The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant imaginations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199929023.

Journal articles[edit]

  • Anderson, Elizabeth S. (2012). "Epistemic Justice as a Virtue of Social Institutions". Social Epistemology. 26 (2): 163–173. doi:10.1080/02691728.2011.652211. ISSN 0269-1728.
  • Dotson, Kristie (2012). "A Cautionary Tale: On Limiting Epistemic Oppression". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 33 (1): 24–47. doi:10.5250/fronjwomestud.33.1.0024.
  • Mills, Charles. 2007. "White Ignorance" in Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance edited by Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, Philosophy and Race Series, pp. 13-38.
  • Medina, José (2011). "The Relevance of Credibility Excess in a Proportional View of Epistemic Injustice: Differential Epistemic Authority and the Social Imaginary". Social Epistemology. 25 (1): 15–35. doi:10.1080/02691728.2010.534568. ISSN 0269-1728.
  • Medina, José (2012). "Hermeneutical Injustice and Polyphonic Contextualism: Social Silences and Shared Hermeneutical Responsibilities". Social Epistemology. 26 (2): 201–220. doi:10.1080/02691728.2011.652214. ISSN 0269-1728.
  • Pohlhaus, Gaile (2011). "Relational Knowing and Epistemic Injustice: Toward a Theory of Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance". Hypatia. 27 (4): 715–735. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01222.x. ISSN 0887-5367.