One Too Many: Hermeneutical Excess as Hermeneutical Injustice

Hypatia (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Hermeneutical injustice, as a species of epistemic injustice, is when members of marginalized groups are unable to make their experiences communicatively intelligible due to a deficiency in collective hermeneutical resources, where this deficiency is traditionally interpreted as a lack of concepts. Against this understanding, this paper argues that even if adequate concepts that describe marginalized groups’ experiences are available within the collective hermeneutical resources, hermeneutical injustice can persist. This paper offers an analysis of how this can happen by introducing the notion of hermeneutical excess: the introduction of additional concepts into collective hermeneutical resources that function to obscure agents’ understanding of the lived experiences of marginalized groups. The injustice of hermeneutical excesses happens not due to hermeneutical marginalization (the exclusion of members of marginalized groups from the construction of hermeneutical resources), but rather hermeneutical domination: when members of dominant groups have been inappropriately included in the construction of hermeneutical resources. By taking as exemplary cases the concepts of “reverse racism” and “non-consensual sex” this paper shows how such excesses are introduced as a kind of defensive strategy used by dominant ideologies precisely when progress with social justice is made.

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Nicole Dular
Franklin College, Indiana

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