Testimonial Injustice, Epistemic Vice, and Vice Epistemology

Authored by: Heather Battaly

The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138828254
eBook ISBN: 9781315212043
Adobe ISBN: 9781351814508


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In her brilliant Epistemic Injustice (2007), Miranda Fricker argues that gender and racial prejudices can distort our perceptions of who is credible and who is not. Fricker contends that gender prejudice prevents Herbert Greenleaf (The Talented Mr. Ripley) from seeing Marge Sherwood as a source of knowledge about his son’s disappearance (2007: 86–88). Likewise, racial prejudice prevents the jurors in Tom Robinson’s trial (To Kill a Mockingbird) from seeing Robinson as a source of knowledge about events at the Ewell’s home (2007: 23–29). Fricker argues that these are paradigmatic cases of testimonial injustice, in which identity prejudice causes hearers to assign a deflated level of credibility to speakers. Accordingly, when our own gender and racial prejudices cause us to downgrade a speaker’s credibility, we too are testimonially unjust. Though it is possible for a hearer to inflict a single instance of testimonial injustice on a speaker as a ‘one-off’, I will focus on testimonial injustice as a disposition of hearers. Testimonial injustice is a disposition to fail to see speakers as credible when they are credible, due to the hearer’s identity prejudice.

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