Harmful Salience Perspectives

In Sophie Archer (ed.), Salience: A Philosophical Inquiry. Routledge. pp. Chapter 11 (2022)
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Consider a terrible situation that too many women find themselves in: 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales alone every year. Many of these women do not bring their cases to trial. There are multiple reasons that they might not want to testify in the courts. The incredibly low conviction rate is one. Another reason, however, might be that these women do not want the fact that they were raped to become the most salient thing about them. More specifically, they do not want it to be the thing that others attend to the most—that others find most noticeable and memorable. In this paper, I introduce the notion of ‘harmful salience perspectives’ to help to explain this and related phenomena. This refers either to attention on things that should not be salient, or not enough attention on things that deserve to be made salient. Following ideas within the feminist literature on objectification, I argue that we can be harmed when aspects of our identity that do not reflect our personhood—our agency, rationality, personality, and so on—are more prominent in the minds of others than aspects that do reflect our personhood. Crucially, these ways of attending do not need to implicate false beliefs and harmful ideologies to be harmful, but can be harmful in their own right.



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Ella Whiteley
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

Epistemic Injustice and the Attention Economy.Leonie Smith & Alfred Archer - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (5):777-795.
Stereotyping and Generics.Anne Bosse - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-17.

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References found in this work

Alief and Belief.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):634-663.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.
Responsibility for implicit bias.Jules Holroyd - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (3).
Considered Judgment.Catherine Z. Elgin - 1999 - Princeton University Press.

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