Standpoint Epistemology and the Epistemology of Deference (3rd edition)

In Mathias Steup (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Epistemology. Blackwell (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Standpoint epistemology has been linked with increasing calls for deference to the socially marginalized. As we understand it, deference involves recognizing someone else as better positioned than we are, either to investigate or to answer some question, and then accepting their judgment as our own. We connect contemporary calls for deference to old objections that standpoint epistemology wrongly reifies differences between groups. We also argue that while deferential epistemic norms present themselves as a solution to longstanding injustices, habitual deference prevents the socially dominant from developing for themselves the skills necessary to expand their capacity for empathy, to deftly probe for evidence, and to ask critical questions. Consequently, we argue that standpoint epistemology must be understood as calling for inclusion, not deference.

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Emily Tilton
University of British Columbia
Briana Toole
Claremont McKenna College

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