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An Epistemology of the Oppressed: Resisting and flourishing under epistemic oppression

philosopher's steps
Thursday, June 17, 2021, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Philosophy Department of the Central European University, the
Institute Vienna Circle and the Unit for Applied Philosophy of Science
and Epistemology (of the Department of Philosophy of the University of
Vienna) are jointly organizing a series of talks this term.

(Further speakers will be Ruth Weintraub and Marta Sznajder.)

The meetings will be online via ZOOM:

You can also log into our meetings through the Zoom application (rather
than by clicking the link above), by using the following credentials:

Meeting-ID: 987 6775 8229
Password: IVC-APSE


In "The Ethics of Uncle Tom's Children" Tommie Shelby notes that an
ethics of the oppressed needs to attend to at least two aspects of
living under conditions of oppression: first, resisting and overturning
the unjust conditions that constitute oppression and second, sustaining
a livable life despite injustice, so that one might live to fight
another day.  In this talk I consider whether the same is true for an
epistemology of the oppressed.  By "epistemology of the oppressed" I
mean a philosophical account of epistemic life from the perspective of
those who are systematically subject to unjust infringements on their
epistemic agency. Despite a growing body of literature on epistemic
injustice, it strikes me that much of this literature does not yet fully
contribute to an epistemology of the oppressed (but instead is geared
toward an epistemology of "how oppressors oppress and how oppressors
could do better").  Of the literature that does contribute to an
epistemology of the oppressed, most of it seems to contribute to the
first aspect identified by Shelby, resisting and overturning unjust
conditions.  Is there also room for thinking about what it means to
flourish, epistemically speaking, when one faces epistemic oppression? 
Or is all epistemic flourishing under such conditions reducible to
epistemic resistance so that the conditions that impede one's epistemic
flourishing begin to be overturned?