Negative epistemic exemplars

In Benjamin Sherman & Stacey Goguen (eds.), Overcoming Epistemic Injustice: Social and Psychological Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield (forthcoming)

Authors
Mark Alfano
Macquarie University
Emily Sullivan
Eindhoven University of Technology
Abstract
In this chapter, we address the roles that exemplars might play in a comprehensive response to epistemic injustice. Fricker defines epistemic injustices as harms people suffer specifically in their capacity as (potential) knowers. We focus on testimonial epistemic injustice, which occurs when someone’s assertoric speech acts are systematically met with either too little or too much credence by a biased audience. Fricker recommends a virtue­theoretic response: people who do not suffer from biases should try to maintain their disposition towards naive testimonial justice, and those who find themselves already biased should cultivate corrective testimonial justice by systematically adjusting their credence in testimony up or down depending on whether they are hearing from someone whom they may be biased against or in favor of. We doubt that the prominent admiration-­emulation model of exemplarism will be much use in this connection, so we propose two ways of learning from negative exemplars to better conduct one’s epistemic affairs. In the admiration-­emulation model, both the identification of what a virtue is and the cultivation of virtues identified thusly proceed through the admiration of virtuous exemplars. We show that this model has serious flaws and argue for two alternatives: the envy-­agonism model and the ambivalence-avoidance model.
Keywords epistemic virtue  epistemic exemplar  admiration  envy  ambivalence  epistemic injustice
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