The epistemological significance of psychic trauma

Hypatia 21 (2):104-125 (2006)

Karyn L. Freedman
University of Guelph
This essay explores the epistemological significance of the kinds of beliefs that grow out of traumatic experiences, such as the rape survivor's belief that she is never safe. On current theories of justification, beliefs like this one are generally dismissed due to either insufficient evidence or insufficient propositional content. Here, Freedman distinguishes two discrete sides of the aftermath of psychic trauma, the shattered self and the shattered worldview. This move enables us to see these beliefs as beliefs; in other words, as having cognitive content. Freedman argues that what we then need is a theory of justification that allows us to handpick reliable sources of information on sexual violence, and give credibility where deemed appropriate. She advances a mix of reliabilism and coherentism that privileges feminism. On this account, the evidence for the class of beliefs in question will depend on an act of sexual violence (or testimony, or statistics) to the extent that the act is a reliable indication of the prevalence of sexual violence against women
Keywords Feminist Epistemology  Justification  Psychological Trauma
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DOI 10.2979/HYP.2006.21.2.104
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What is Justified Belief.Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Theory of Knowledge.Keith Lehrer - 1990 - Westview Press.

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