Varieties of Hermeneutical Injustice

Authored by: José Medina

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 pioneering book Epistemic Injustice (2007), Miranda Fricker gave explicit formulation to a phenomenon that oppressed subjects had been experiencing and calling attention to for a long time: the expressive and interpretative side of their oppression, that is, hermeneutical injustice. Hermeneutical injustice is the phenomenon that occurs when the intelligibility of communicators is unfairly constrained or undermined, when their meaning-making capacities encounter unfair obstacles, or, as Fricker puts it, “when a gap in collective interpretive resources puts someone at an unfair advantage when it comes to making sense of their social experience” (2007: 1). Hermeneutical harms should not be minimized or underestimated, for the interpretative capacities of expressing oneself and being understood are basic human capacities. Meaning-making and meaning-sharing are crucial aspects of a dignified human life. Hermeneutical injuries can go very deep, indeed to the very core of one’s humanity. Fricker asked: “Is hermeneutical injustice sometimes so damaging that it cramps the very development of self”? (2007: 163)

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