Is there an epistemic advantage to being oppressed?

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Abstract

Do the oppressed have an epistemic advantage when it comes to knowing about the systems that oppress them? If so, what explains this advantage? In this paper, I consider whether an epistemic advantage can be derived from the oppressed's contingent tendency to have more relevant experiences and motivation than the non-oppressed; or, alternatively, whether an advantage derives from the oppressed's very lived experience, thus being in principle unavailable to the non-oppressed. I then explore the potential role of knowledge-how for explaining an epistemic advantage. Ultimately, I conclude that the oppressed tend to have a contingent advantage, while rejecting that they have one in principle, except for when their phenomenological experience has an effect on the veracity of the claims they make. This has the important upshot that privileged people are not epistemically disadvantaged in principle and are thus often blameworthy for their ignorance about oppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-640
Number of pages23
JournalNous
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy

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