Epistemic justice as a condition of political freedom?

Fricker, Miranda
April 2013
Synthese;Apr2013, Vol. 190 Issue 7, p1317
Academic Journal
I shall first briefly revisit the broad idea of 'epistemic injustice', explaining how it can take either distributive or discriminatory form, in order to put the concepts of 'testimonial injustice' and 'hermeneutical injustice' in place. In previous work I have explored how the wrong of both kinds of epistemic injustice has both an ethical and an epistemic significance-someone is wronged in their capacity as a knower. But my present aim is to show that this wrong can also have a political significance in relation to non-domination, and so to freedom. While it is only the republican conception of political freedom that presents nondomination as constitutive of freedom, I shall argue that non-domination is best understood as a thoroughly generic liberal ideal of freedom to which even negative libertarians are implicitly committed, for non-domination is negative liberty as of right-secured non-interference. Crucially on this conception, non-domination requires that the citizen can contest interferences. Pettit specifies three conditions of contestation, each of which protects against a salient risk of the would-be contester not getting a 'proper hearing'. But I shall argue that missing from this list is anything to protect against a fourth salient threat: the threat that either kind of epistemic injustice might disable contestation by way of an unjust deflation of either credibility or intelligibility. Thus we see that both testimonial and hermeneutical injustice can render a would-be contester dominated. Epistemic justice is thereby revealed as a constitutive condition of non-domination, and thus of a central liberal political ideal of freedom.


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