When we hope to explain and perhaps vindicate a practice that is internally diverse, philosophy faces a methodological challenge. Such subject matters are likely to have explanatorily basic features that are not necessary conditions. This prompts a move away from analysis to some other kind of philosophical explanation. This paper proposes a paradigm based explanation of one such subject matter: blame. First, a paradigm form of blame is identified—‘Communicative Blame’—where this is understood as a candidate for an explanatorily basic form (...) of blame. Second, its point and purpose in our lives is investigated and found to reside in its power to increase the alignment of the blamer and the wrongdoer's moral understandings. Third, the hypothesis that Communicative Blame is an explanatorily basic form of blame is tested out by seeing how far other kinds of blame can reasonably be understood as derivative, especially in respect of blame's point and purpose. Finally, a new and quasi-political worry about blame is raised. (shrink)
I shall first briefly revisit the broad idea of ‘epistemic injustice’, explaining how it can take either distributive or discriminatory form, in order to put the concepts of ‘testimonial injustice’ and ‘hermeneutical injustice’ in place. In previous work I have explored how the wrong of both kinds of epistemic injustice has both an ethical and an epistemic significance—someone is wronged in their capacity as a knower. But my present aim is to show that this wrong can also have a political (...) significance in relation to non-domination, and so to freedom. While it is only the republican conception of political freedom that presents nondomination as constitutive of freedom, I shall argue that non-domination is best understood as a thoroughly generic liberal ideal of freedom to which even negative libertarians are implicitly committed, for non-domination is negative liberty as of right—secured non-interference. Crucially on this conception, non-domination requires that the citizen can contest interferences. Pettit specifies three conditions of contestation, each of which protects against a salient risk of the would-be contester not getting a ‘proper hearing’. But I shall argue that missing from this list is anything to protect against a fourth salient threat: the threat that either kind of epistemic injustice might disable contestation by way of an unjust deflation of either credibility or intelligibility. Thus we see that both testimonial and hermeneutical injustice can render a would-be contester dominated. Epistemic justice is thereby revealed as a constitutive condition of non-domination, and thus of a central liberal political ideal of freedom. (shrink)
There are two kinds of forgiveness that appear as radically different from one another: one presents forgiveness as essentially earned through remorseful apology; the other presents it as fundamentally non-earned—a gift. The first, which I label Moral Justice Forgiveness, adopts a stance of moral demand and conditionality; the second, which I label Gifted Forgiveness, adopts a stance of non-demand and un-conditionality. Each is real; yet how can two such different responses to wrongdoing be of one and the same kind? This (...) paper explains how, by showing that the basic role each plays in moral-social life is the same; and that one is conceptually and therefore historically prior to the other. The result is pluralism, with each kind of forgiveness represented as distinctive in both its psychology and its normativity; and yet an ordered pluralism—with Moral Justice Forgiveness revealed as the root kind, and Gifted Forgiveness a culturally contingent iteration. (shrink)
This paper explores the relation between rational authority and social power, proceeding by way of a philosophical genealogy derived from Edward Craig's Knowledge and the State of Nature. The position advocated avoids the errors both of the 'traditionalist' (who regards the socio-political as irrelevant to epistemology) and of the 'reductivist' (who regards reason as just another form of social power). The argument is that a norm of credibility governs epistemic practice in the state of nature, which, when socially manifested, is (...) likely to imitate the structures of social power. A phenomenon of epistemic injustice is explained, and the politicizing implication for epistemology educed. (shrink)
The dual aim of this article is to reveal and explain a certain phenomenon of epistemic injustice as manifested in testimonial practice, and to arrive at a characterisation of the anti–prejudicial intellectual virtue that is such as to counteract it. This sort of injustice occurs when prejudice on the part of the hearer leads to the speaker receiving less credibility than he or she deserves. It is suggested that where this phenomenon is systematic it constitutes an important form of oppression. (...) [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
We gain information from collective, often institutional bodies all the time—from the publications of committees, news teams, or research groups, from web sites such as Wikipedia, and so on—but do these bodies ever function as genuine group testifiers as opposed to mere group sources of information? In putting the question this way I invoke a distinction made, if briefly, by Edward Craig, which I believe to be of deep significance in thinking about the distinctiveness of the speech act of testimony. (...) The distinction is that between somebody’s functioning as a ‘good informant’ and their functioning merely as a ‘source of information’. The difference between these has, as he remarks, a crucial ethical aspect: What I have in mind is the special flavour of situations in which human beings treat each other as subjects with a common purpose, rather than as objects from which services, in this case true belief, can be extracted. In this paper I shall try to bring out the distinctive nature of the role of good informant in a way that helps to clarify what is at stake in asking whether there can be group testimony in the sense of genuinely collective testimony—that is to say, where the group testifier is a collective and not merely a sum of individuals testifying in one or another form of aggregated chorus. (shrink)
In this paper I respond to three commentaries on Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. In response to Alcoff, I primarily defend my conception of how an individual hearer might develop virtues of epistemic justice. I do this partly by drawing on empirical social psychological evidence supporting the possibility of reflective self-regulation for prejudice in our judgements. I also emphasize the fact that individual virtue is only part of the solution – structural mechanisms also have an essential role (...) in combating epistemic injustice. My response to Goldberg principally concerns my perceptual account of the epistemology of testimony, which I defend as being both well-motivated and best categorized as a species of non-inferentialism. I also explain its relation to the reductionism/non-reductionism contrast, and defend my resistance to casting it as any kind of default view. In response to Hookway, I contrast discriminatory with distributive forms of epistemic injustice, and defend the basic taxonomy I present in the book, which casts testimonial and hermeneutical injustice as the two fundamental discriminatory forms of epistemic injustice. (shrink)
Groups engage in epistemic activity all the time--whether it be the active collective inquiry of scientific research groups or crime detection units, or the evidential deliberations of tribunals and juries, or the informational efforts of the voting population in general--and yet in philosophy there is still relatively little epistemology of groups to help explore these epistemic practices and their various dimensions of social and philosophical significance. The aim of this book is to address this lack, by presenting original essays in (...) the field of collective epistemology, exploring these regions of epistemic practice and their significance for Epistemology, Political Philosophy, Ethics, and the Philosophy of Science. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is a sceptic about the objectivity of moral value, embracing instead a qualified moral relativism—the ‘relativism of distance’. His attitude to blame too is in part sceptical. I will argue that the relativism of distance is unconvincing, even incoherent; but also that it is detachable from the rest of Williams's moral philosophy. I will then go on to propose an entirely localized thesis I call the relativism of blame, which says that when an agent's moral shortcomings by our (...) lights are a matter of their living according to the moral thinking of their day, judgements of blame are out of order. Finally, I will propose a form of moral judgement we may sometimes quite properly direct towards historically distant agents when blame is inappropriate—moral-epistemic disappointment. Together these two proposals may help release us from the grip of the idea that moral appraisal always involves the potential applicability of blame, and so from a key source of the relativist idea that moral appraisal is inappropriate over distance. (shrink)
[T]he dominated live in a world structured by others for their purposes — purposes that at the very least are not our own and that are in various degrees inimical to our development and even existence.We are perhaps used to the idea that there are various species of oppression: political, economic, or sexual, for instance. But where there is the phenomenon that Nancy Hartsock picks out in saying that the world is “structured” by the powerful to the detriment of the (...) powerless, there is another species of oppression at work, one that has not been registered in mainstream epistemology: epistemic oppression. The word ‘structured’ may be read materially, so as to imply that social institutions and practices favour the powerful, or ontologically, so as to imply that the powerful somehow constitute the world. But for present purposes I am interested only in an epistemological reading, which implies that the powerful have some sort of unfair advantage in “structuring” our understandings of the social world. I will try to present an account of what this initially vague idea involves. I hope thereby to explain an exact sense in which the powerful can have a kind of epistemic advantage that means the powerless are epistemically oppressed. (shrink)
Our understanding of social experiences is central to our social understanding more generally. But this sphere of epistemic practice can be structurally prejudiced by unequal relations of power, so that some groups suffer a distinctive kind of epistemic injustice—hermeneutical injustice. I aim to achieve a clear conception of this epistemicethical phenomenon, so that we have a workable definition and a proper understanding of the wrong that it inflicts.
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they may (...) be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (1) 2008: pp. 27-50. (shrink)
The thirteen specially-commissioned essays in this volume are written by philosophers at the forefront of feminist scholarship, and are designed to provide an accessible and stimulating guide to a philosophical literature that has seen massive expansion in recent years. Ranging from history of philosophy through metaphysics to philosophy of science, they encompass all the core subject areas commonly taught in anglophone undergraduate and graduate philosophy courses, offering both an overview of and a contribution to the relevant debates. Together they testify (...) to the intellectual value of feminism as a radicalizing energy internal to philosophical inquiry. This volume will be essential reading for any student or teacher of philosophy who is curious about the place of feminism in their subject. (shrink)
The current literature on the value of knowledge is marred by two unwarranted presumptions, which together distort the debate and conceal what is perhaps the most basic value of knowledge, as distinct from mere true belief. These presumptions are the Synchronic Presumption, which confines philosophical attention to the present snapshot in time; and the Analytical Presumption, which has people look for the value of knowledge in some kind of warrant. Together these presumptions conceal that the value of knowledge might inhere (...) not in a necessary condition, but simply in a property that most knowledge possesses; and, in particular, that it might inhere, as I argue it does, in a certain property of 'resilience': the tendency to survive misleading counter-evidence over time owing to the subject's being in a position to weight it against evidence already possessed. (shrink)
The notion of recognition is an ethically potent resource for understanding human relational needs; and its negative counterpart, misrecognition, an equally potent resource for critique. Axel Honneth’s rich account focuses our attention on recognition’s role in securing basic self-confidence, moral self-respect, and self-esteem. With these loci of recognition in place, we are enabled to raise the intriguing question whether each of these may be extended to apply specifically to the epistemic dimension of our agency and selfhood. Might we talk intelligibly—while (...) staying in tune with Honneth’s concepts and their Hegelian key—of a generic idea of epistemic recognition? Such an idea might itself be seen to apply at the same three levels to indicate: first, basic epistemic self-confidence; second, our status as epistemically responsible; and third, a certain epistemic self-esteem that reflects the epistemic esteem we receive from others. The papers in this volume surely sound a chord in the affirmative, and together they steer us towards a multifaceted conception of how epistemic injustice is related to epistemic misrecognition, and indeed how we might construe a positive relation of epistemic recognition. (shrink)
Interpreting Bernard Williams’s ethical philosophy is not easy. His style is deceptively conversational; apparently direct, yet argumentatively inexplicit and allusive. He is moreover committed to evading ready-made philosophical “-isms.” All this reinforces the already distinct impression that the structure of his philosophy is a web of interrelated commitments where none has unique priority. Against this impression, however, I will venture that the contours of his philosophy become clearest if one considers that there is a single, unchanging root conviction from which (...) his ethical philosophy grows. Despite the perpetual motion of his philosophical thought—its erudition, originality, range, and unceasing forward momentum—still, I contend, there is something unchanging at the heart of it. I will show this by reference to three signature theses: internal reasons, the relativism of distance, and the porous borders of philosophy and history. I will argue that the root conviction of which these are the fruits is the conviction that the constraints of universal rationality seriously underdetermine how one should live. This, I believe, is the vision of the human ethical condition that constitutes the largely inexplicit yet utterly fundamental presupposition beneath Williams’s ethical philosophy taken as a whole. I label the object of this root conviction ethical freedom, and thus portray Williams as a philosopher of ethical freedom. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the different styles of moral relativism. The history of moral relativist thinking features different branches to the family tree, each representing a different impetus to relativism, and so producing a different style of moral relativist thought. At the root, however, is a broadly subjectivist parent idea that morality is at least in part the upshot of a shared way of life, and shared ways of life tend to vary markedly from culture to culture. The discussions cover (...) the branches of moral historicism, moral reasons, moral truth, and moral plurality. (shrink)
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they may (...) be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. (shrink)
Over the centuries, many philosophers have written about injustice. More recently, attention has turned to a previously little-recognized form of injustice – epistemic injustice. The philosopher Miranda Fricker coined the phrase ‘epistemic injustice’ – an example being when your credibility as a source of knowledge is unjustly downgraded (perhaps because you are ‘just a woman’ of the ‘wrong’ race). This interview with Miranda explores what epistemic injustice is, and why it is important.
I consider Katherine Hawley's commitment account of interpersonal trustworthiness alongside her sceptical challenge regarding the value of philosophically modelling institutional trustworthiness as distinct from reliability. I argue, pace Hawley's challenge, that there would be significant diagnostic and explanatory loss if we were to content ourselves with ideas of institutional (un)reliability alone; and I offer an illustrative case where institutional unreliability is only the half of it, indicating that when it comes to certain kinds of institutional dysfunction, we do need philosophical (...) models of institutional ‘distrustworthiness’ if we are to achieve a proper diagnosis. (shrink)
Our ideas about forgiveness seem to oscillate between idealization and scepticism. How should we make sense of this apparent conflict? This paper argues that we should learn something from each, seeing these views as representing opposing moments in a perennial and well-grounded moral ambivalence towards forgiveness. Once we are correctly positioned, we shall see an aspect of forgiveness that recommends precisely this ambivalence. For what will come into view will be certain key psychological mechanisms of moral-epistemic influence – other-addressed and (...) self-addressed mechanisms of moral social construction – that enable forgiveness to function well when it is well-functioning, but which are also intrinsically prone to deterioration into one or another form of bad faith. Thus forgiveness is revealed as necessarily containing seeds of its own corruption, showing ambivalence to be a generically appropriate attitude. Moreover, it is emphasized that where forgiver and forgiven are relating to one another in the context of asymmetries of social power, the practice of forgiveness is likely to be further compromised, notably increasing the risk of negative influence on the moral-epistemic states of either the forgiver or the forgiven, or both. (shrink)
Este texto es la traducción del capítulo cuarto de The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, editado por Ian James Kidd, José Medina y Gaile Pohlhaus Jr. En él, Miranda Fricker aclara y delimita los conceptos de injusticia hermenéutica y testimonial, proporcionando ejemplos, narrando su genealogía, respondiendo a algunas de las críticas que recibieron estos conceptos, así como estableciendo relaciones de semejanza y contraste con otras concepciones de la justicia y otras ramas de la filosofía.
This chapter contains sections titled: Feminism and Philosophy: Introduction Philosophy and Masculinity Dichotomies: Derrida and Feminism Feminism and Philosophy Feminism in Philosophy: Two Conceptions Philosophical Commitments.
In London in 1993, a black teenager named Stephen Lawrence was fatally stabbed by a small gang of white teenagers. His friend Duwayne Brooks was a witness but the police failed to take his testimony seriously. When someone speaks but is not heard because of accent, sex, or colour, that person is undermined as a knower. This week, we look at was it means to do justice to someone's status as a knower.
This introductory text encourages students to engage with key problems and arguments in ethics through a series of classic and contemporary readings. The text will inspire students to think about the distinctive nature of moral philosophy, and to draw comparisons between different traditions of thought, between ancient and modern philosophies, and between theoretical and literary writing about the place of value in human life. Each of the book's six chapters focuses on a particular theme: the nature of goodness, subjectivity and (...) objectivity in ethical thinking, justice and virtue, moral motivation, the place of moral obligation, and the idea that literature can be a form of moral philosophy. Each chapter features two or three key readings, drawn from texts as diverse as Plato's Republic, J. S. Mill's Utilitarianism, Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and Rawls' A Theory of Justice. The readings are all accompanied by interactive commentary from the editors. (shrink)