Children and testimonial injustice: A response to Burroughs and Tollefsen

Episteme 17 (2):178-194 (2020)
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Abstract

Michael Burroughs and Deborah Tollefsen (2016) claim that children are subject to widespread testimonial injustice. They argue that empirical data shows that children are prejudicially accorded less epistemic credibility in forensic contexts, and that this in turn shows that the same is true in broader contexts. While I agree that there is indeed testimonial injustice against children, I argue that Burroughs and Tollefsen exaggerate its severity and extent, by exaggerating children’s testimonial reliability. Firstly, the empirical data do not quite support their claim about children’s performance in forensic contexts. Secondly, while they advocate a relational conception of children’s agency which emphasizes the role of adults in realizing their testimonial abilities, Burroughs and Tollefsen miss the full implications of such a conception for our evaluation of children’s credibility, and for our behavior towards them in testimonial contexts. Thirdly, they underestimate the significance of children’s limited general knowledge.

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Gary Bartlett
Central Washington University

References found in this work

The Epistemic Challenge of Hearing Child’s Voice.Karin Murris - 2013 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 32 (3):245-259.
The Nature of Epistemic Injustice.Ishani Maitra - 2010 - Philosophical Books 51 (4):195-211.
What Do Kids Know? A Response to Karin Murris.Michael Hand - 2015 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 34 (3):327-330.

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