Other People’s Problems: Student Distancing, Epistemic Responsibility, and Injustice

Studies in Philosophy and Education 35 (5):427-444 (2016)
Authors
Matt S. Whitt
Duke University
Abstract
In classes that examine entrenched injustices like sexism or racism, students sometimes use “distancing strategies” to dissociate themselves from the injustice being studied. Education researchers argue that distancing is a mechanism through which students, especially students of apparent privilege, deny their complicity in systemic injustice. While I am sympathetic to this analysis, I argue that there is much at stake in student distancing that the current literature fails to recognize. On my view, distancing perpetuates socially sanctioned forms of ignorance and unknowing, through which students misrecognize not only their complicity in injustice, but also the ways that injustice shapes the world, their lives, and their knowledge. Thus, distancing is pedagogically problematic because it prevents students from understanding important social facts, and because it prevents them from engaging with perspectives, analyses, and testimonies that might beneficially challenge their settled views and epistemic habits. To substantiate this new analysis, I draw on recent work on epistemologies of ignorance, especially José Medina’s account of “active ignorance.” In order to respond to student distancing, I argue, it is not sufficient for teachers to make students aware of injustice, or of their potential complicity in it. Beyond this, teachers should cultivate epistemic virtue in the classroom and encourage students to take responsibility for better ways of knowing. The article ends by outlining several classroom practices for beginning this work.
Keywords Pedagogy  Distancing  Epistemology of ignorance  Active ignorance  Racism  Medina
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11217-015-9484-1
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,830
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1999 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
Epistemic Responsibility.Lorraine Code - 1987 - Published for Brown University Press by University Press of New England.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Critique of Hermeneutical Injustice.Laura Beeby - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):479-486.
Two Concepts of Epistemic Injustice.David Coady - 2010 - Episteme 7 (2):101-113.
Toward a Revaluation of Ignorance.Cynthia Townley - 2006 - Hypatia 21 (3):37 - 55.
The Hearts and Guts of White People.Shannon Sullivan - 2014 - Journal of Religious Ethics 42 (4):591-611.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-06-26

Total downloads
38 ( #168,821 of 2,293,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #137,166 of 2,293,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature