Philosophy Epistemic Injustice
by
Miranda Fricker
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0274

Introduction

The term “epistemic injustice” was introduced to the literature in the monograph of that name, Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing (Fricker 2007, cited under Epistemic Injustice (“Testimonial,” “Hermeneutical,” and More)), by Miranda Fricker, and in precursor papers (from 1998 and 2003). The book draws on diverse philosophical materials—chiefly, the epistemology of testimony, virtue epistemology, feminist philosophy, and the method of state of nature, or genealogical explanation—to frame the view advanced there. The theoretical constructions are explicitly placed in a feminist philosophical lineage, particularly in critical relation to standpoint theory and postmodernism. An overarching ambition of the book is to establish a new and theoretically modest framework in which to explore and explain certain relations between power and knowledge, at once liberating the issue from the heavy theoretical burdens of historical materialism, on the one hand, and from the relativistic reductionism of postmodernism, on the other—a theoretical positioning at a respectful remove from the long shadows of both Marx and Foucault. In the book and subsequent papers (e.g., Fricker 2013, cited under Epistemic Injustice (“Testimonial,” “Hermeneutical,” and More)), Fricker argues that there are two basic kinds of epistemic injustice, or two fundamental ways in which people can be wrongfully disadvantaged in their capacity as epistemic subjects. They are labelled Testimonial Injustice and Hermeneutical Injustice (these terms are explained in the relevant sections below). While these are presented as internally diverse categories, Fricker has largely argued for them as the two basic kinds of discriminatory (as opposed to distributive) epistemic injustice. Other philosophers—such as Patrick Bondy, David Coady, Kristie Dotson, Gerald Marsh, and Gaile Pohlhaus—have proposed new forms of epistemic injustice, however, that are not conceived as instances of either testimonial or hermeneutical injustice, but rather proposed variously as a more general kind, or as a further basic kind of epistemic injustice. Others have focused on either extending or on problematizing the concepts in different ways (e.g., Elizabeth Anderson, James Bohman, Laura Beeby, Katherine Hawley, Christopher Hookway, Karen Jones, Ishani Maitra, Rebecca Mason, Jane McConkey, James McCollum, José Medina, Gloria Origgi, Jeremy Wanderer, and Wayne Riggs). And finally, others have shown how existing concepts can be fruitfully applied in new contexts (see New Contexts section). The lists given here are necessarily limited, and the literature on epistemic injustice continues to expand and diversify.

Anthologies, Symposia, and Overview

Bohman and McCollum 2012 is an excellent collection of critical discussions of the issues—a broad range of issues are addressed across ethical, epistemological, and political aspects. Alcoff, et al. 2010 is also an excellent resource: a book symposium consisting of three commentaries with replies. Fricker, et al. 2008 presents two critical discussions and a book précis. Gelfert 2014 would be particularly useful for those wishing to teach epistemic injustice as a topic in an epistemology course on testimony; and Grasswick 2013 would be particularly useful for those wishing to situate issues of epistemic injustice in the broader context of feminist epistemology.

  • Alcoff, Linda, Sanford Goldberg, Christopher Hookway, and Miranda Fricker. “Book Symposium: Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing.” Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 7.2 (2010): 128–179.

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    Book symposium, with replies by Fricker.

  • Bohman, James, and James McCollum, eds. Special Issue: Epistemic Injustice. Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy 26.2 (April 2012).

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    A special issue with seven papers developing and expanding notions of epistemic injustice in new and distinctive ways; and an interview with Fricker. Contributions by Elizabeth Anderson, James Bohman, Karen Jones, James McCollum, José Medina, Gloria Origgi, Wayne Riggs, and an interview with Fricker by Susan Dieleman. Further discussions with new participants are published online at the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.

  • Fricker, Miranda, Martin, Francisco Xavier Gil, and Jesús Zamora Bonilla. “Forum: Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing.” Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 23.1 (2008): 69–89.

    E-mail Citation »

    Book symposium with précis and replies by Fricker.

  • Gelfert, Axel. A Critical Introduction to Testimony. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

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    A teaching resource for the epistemology of testimony; chapter 10 (pp. 193–214) is on the “Pathologies of Testimony,” with sections on both testimonial and hermeneutical injustice. Study questions are included at the end of each chapter.

  • Grasswick, Heidi. “Feminist Social Epistemology.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2013.

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    An overview of the issues. See section 4.1, “Epistemic Injustice.”

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