EPISTEMIC RESPONSIBILITY: ON THE RELEVANCE OF FEMINIST EPISTEMOLOGY TO MAINSTREAM EPISTEMOLOGY
Bingeman, Emily Venita
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The aim of this dissertation is to build a concept of epistemic responsibility that takes seriously insights from feminist epistemology, addiction studies, and disability theory. I use John Greco’s knowledge-as-achievement account as a starting point, and demonstrate how an ability-centred account such as Greco’s can be undergirded with these insights to create a concept of epistemic responsibility that better captures the complex social and political nature of our epistemic practices. I begin in Chapter 1 by outlining the contours of the project and making an argument for the importance of projects that create porousness between feminist epistemology and mainstream epistemology. In Chapter 2 I outline five key insights in feminist epistemology that I use both in assessing Greco’s theory and in guiding the reconstruction. I argue that accommodating these insights will require, at a minimum, a thoroughly social/non-individualistic concept of epistemic responsibility. The strategy that I take to build such a concept is threefold. First, in Chapter 3, I provide a theoretical background of currently existing social/non-individualistic concepts of responsibility that serve to lay a groundwork for my notion of epistemic responsibility. The goal is not to provide a comprehensive survey of the work on responsibility, but rather to draw out tools and frameworks that are helpful in thinking through epistemic responsibility. Second, in Chapter 4, I develop an extended analysis of a concrete phenomenon that I take to be a thoroughly social/non-individualistic context of responsibility ascription: responsibility for addiction, or rather for the harms associated with drug use. And finally, in Chapter 5, taking all of the insights and tools that I have gathered in Chapters 2-4, I embark on the project of theory reconstruction. I begin by outlining the strengths and weaknesses in Greco’s theory with respect to the insights I have highlighted. I then bring in disability theory in order to shore up the notion of ability operative in Greco’s account which I argue allows us to better account for the social and political complexities of epistemic practice.
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