"That's Above My Paygrade": Woke Excuses for Ignorance

Philosophers' Imprint (forthcoming)
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Standpoint theorists have long been clear that marginalization does not make better understanding a given. They have been less clear, though, that social dominance does not make ignorance a given. Indeed, many standpoint theorists have implicitly committed themselves to what I call the strong epistemic disadvantage thesis. According to this thesis, there are strong, substantive limits on what the socially dominant can know about oppression that they do not personally experience. I argue that this thesis is not just implausible but politically pernicious; it is an excuse for ignorance and silence that stifles our ability to address many injustices. Moreover, I argue that if we are to avoid lending support to the SEDT while working within a standpoint theory framework, we must hold that the socially dominant can achieve marginalized standpoints. So, we must hold that men can achieve feminist standpoints, that white women (and men) can achieve black feminist standpoints, and so on.



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Emily Tilton
University of British Columbia

Citations of this work

Standpoint Epistemology and the Epistemology of Deference (3rd edition).Emily Tilton & Briana Toole - forthcoming - In Kurt Sylvan, Sosa Ernest, Dancy Jonathan & Steup Matthias (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Epistemology. Wiley Blackwell.
Testimony of Oppression and the Limits of Empathy.Katharina Anna Sodoma - 2024 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 27 (2):185-202.

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