Objectivity, Epistemic Objectification, and Oppression

Authored by: Sally Haslanger

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

10.4324/9781315212043.ch27

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Abstract

The term ‘objective’ is used in multiple ways. 2 To begin, it is important to distinguish at least three different candidates for objectivity: objective reality, objective discourse, and objective knowledge. Here is how the terms are standardly (though controversially) used in current debates:

Objective reality = what is ‘out there’, in some sense independent of us; how things are, regardless of how we think or speak about them.

Objective discourses = discourses within which we can express facts.

Objective knowledge = knowledge that can be justified in terms that are accessible to any rational agent.

There may be discourses that enable us to express facts that are not to be found in objective reality. For example, some would argue that secondary qualities, such as color, are not part of objective reality because color ‘depends on us’. Nevertheless there are objective facts about whether a stop sign is red or blue. In contrast to color discourse, however, discourses about what’s funny (allegedly) aren’t even in the business of expressing facts. Color is not objectively real, but color discourse is objective; funniness isn’t objectively real, and its discourse isn’t objective either.

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