Moral Testimony under Oppression

Journal of Social Philosophy 48 (2):212-236 (2017)
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​The traditional datum concerning moral testimony is that it is (epistemically or morally) problematic--or at least more problematic--than non-moral testimony. More recently, some have sought to analyze the issue of moral testimony within a narrower lens: instead of questioning whether moral testimony on the whole is (more) problematic or not, they have instead focused on possible conditions under which moral deference would be legitimate or forbidden. In this paper, I consider two such features: that of uncertainty and a belief in the greater reliability of another agent. I argue that under these conditions agents have a moral obligation not to defer. I argue that this is because uncertainty and judgments of others’ reliability covary with social status and are themselves products of oppressive social hierarchies, in which case moral deference under these conditions would result in many harms, the most significant being that it would itself propagate oppression by perpetuating unjust social hierarchies. In this way, this paper focuses on how unjust social facts can affect our moral epistemology, specifically how social and political factors can affect moral testimony, and is thus an exercise in non-ideal moral epistemology.



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Nicole Dular
Notre Dame of Maryland University

Citations of this work

Why don't we trust moral testimony?James Andow - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (4):456-474.
The Harms of the Internalized Oppression Worry.Nicole Dular & Madeline Ward - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
Intellectual humility: A no‐distraction account.Laura Frances Callahan - 2024 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 108 (2):320-337.

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References found in this work

White Ignorance.Charles W. Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
The Ethics of Care. Personal, Political, and Global.Virginia Held - 2007 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (2):399-399.

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