Epistemic injustice in psychiatric practice: epistemic duties and the phenomenological approach

Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (12):69-69 (2021)
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Abstract

Epistemic injustice is a kind of injustice that arises when one’s capacity as an epistemic subject is wrongfully denied. In recent years it has been argued that psychiatric patients are often harmed in their capacity as knowers and suffer from various forms of epistemic injustice that they encounter in psychiatric services. Acknowledging that epistemic injustice is a multifaceted problem in psychiatry calls for an adequate response. In this paper I argue that, given that psychiatric patients deserve epistemic respect and have a certain epistemic privilege, healthcare professionals have a pro tanto epistemic duty to attend to and/or solicit reports of patients’ first-person experiences in order to prevent epistemic losses. I discuss the nature and scope of this epistemic duty and point to one interesting consequence. In order to prevent epistemic losses, healthcare professionals may need to provide some patients with resources and tools for expressing their experiences and first-person knowledge, such as those that have been developed within the phenomenological approach. I discuss the risk of secondary testimonial and hermeneutical injustice that the practice of relying on such external tools might pose and survey some ways to mitigate it.

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Anna Drożdżowicz
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

References found in this work

Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.Kristie Dotson - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):115-138.
Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data.Neil Levy - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):3-26.
Epistemic Injustice in Healthcare: A Philosophical Analysis.Ian James Kidd & Havi Carel - 2014 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17 (4):529-540.

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