Epistemic Injustice: Understanding Across Difference
Webster, Marisa Laila
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Miranda Fricker argues that powerless social groups may be subject to a unique form of injustice: hermeneutical injustice. On her account, deficiencies in the shared tools of interpretation may render the experiences of powerless social groups (for instance, women prior to the era of second wave feminism) both incomprehensible and incommunicable. In this thesis, I argue that Fricker has mischaracterized hermeneutical injustice and the silence of marginalized social groups: rather than lacking understanding, powerless groups are often denied rational authority with respect to their own social experiences or choose to self-silence. For this reason, I argue that many of the cases of hermeneutical injustice offered by Fricker collapse into cases of testimonial injustice. This mischaracterization has led Fricker to propose solutions to hermeneutical injustice that are inadequate; in response, I offer a solution that prescribes self-reflexive awareness of the ways that power and privilege shape our interpretive frameworks.