Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
I advance a new theory of epistemic injustice, with important implications for pursuing epistemic justice. This project develops a positive account of epistemic justice, broadens the scope of the phenomenon, and motivates new interventions. This dissertations works towards a better understanding of what it means to be an epistemic subject and to be treated as such.
I argue that epistemic injustice can be understood through a lens of participation in inquiry, rather than using the received view that focuses on testimony. On my account, victims are marginalized when disrespected and devalued as potential participants in inquiry due to prejudice. This account broadens the domain of epistemic injustice, incorporating different instances of epistemic exclusion that do not involve testimony. This participatory account can better explain the core features of epistemic injustice and identifies mechanisms in subtypes of epistemic injustice. Preventing and remedying epistemic injustice requires creating inclusive communities that respect and foster participation in inquiry. I argue that the virtuous elements of inclusion are embodied in groups rather than individuals, and can successfully address the wrong of epistemic injustice. Successfully fostering inclusion will require an intersectional approach in order to address varied forms of epistemic injustice.
My dissertation is a collection of five inter-related articles expanding the notion of epistemic injustice. In the first chapter, the article “What's unjust about testimonial injustice?” explores underlying notions of “justice” within the phenomenon of epistemic injustice. I argue that different philosophers rely upon different notions of justice (specifically David Coady and Miranda Fricker). In contrast to both of their views, I argue that epistemic injustice should be understood as a form of oppression. Next, I argue that there are at least two different ways to disrespect victims of epistemic injustice: by denying them recognition respect (their epistemic standing) or appraisal respect (their credibility). The article “Credibility and Recognition: Two Failures of Respect in Epistemic Injustice” makes up the second chapter. Chapter three, “Knowledge and Participation: Giving a Participatory Account of Epistemic Injustice” argues that epistemic subjects are wronged when de-valued as potential participants (by denying access, recognition, or appraisal).
This participatory framework is better able to analyze the category of epistemic injustice compared to other approaches. I propose cultivating the virtue of inclusion (as a virtue of social groups) in the next chapter: “Inclusion: Addressing Epistemic Injustice with a Group Virtue”. Inclusion (rather than open-mindedness, testimonial injustice, or trust) is the virtue that is best able to prevent and remedy instances of epistemic injustice. Using a case study of patients with fibromyalgia, I show that different types of epistemic injustice impact and reinforce one another. Those who experience epistemic injustice encounter it while also experiencing other overlapping oppressions. As a result, I argue we must pursue intersectional epistemic justice. The fifth and final chapter addresses this topic, in: “The Pain of Being Overlooked: A Case Study on Fibromyalgia and Intersectional Epistemic Justice”.
The existing literature on epistemic injustice has been overly narrow in focus, missing significant instances of epistemic wrongs. My project can help both ethicists and epistemologists formulate solutions to epistemic oppression by providing a more fully developed account of epistemic ideals. Methodologically, I draw from varied approaches including virtue ethics, social epistemology, feminist philosophy, and social psychology. This approach has direct implications not only for ethics research but also for teaching pedagogy and provides new avenues for preventing the epistemic marginalization of vulnerable individuals.
Chair and Committee
Anne Margaret Baxley, Miranda Fricker, Ron Mallon, Kit Wellman,
Schmidt, Kate C.S., "Epistemic Justice and Epistemic Participation" (2019). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1787.