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LEARNING TO LISTEN: EPISTEMIC INJUSTICE AND THE CHILD

  • Michael D. Burroughs and Deborah Tollefsen
Abstract

In Epistemic Injustice Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinctively epistemic type of injustice in which someone is wronged specifically in his or her capacity as a knower. Fricker's examples of identity-prejudicial credibility deficit primarily involve gender, race, and class, in which individuals are given less credibility due to prejudicial stereotypes. We argue that children, as a class, are also subject to testimonial injustice and receive less epistemic credibility than they deserve. To illustrate the prevalence of testimonial injustice against children we document examples of negative prejudicial treatment in forensic contexts where children frequently act as testifiers. These examples, along with research on the child's competence and reliability as a testifier, reveal widespread epistemic prejudice against children. Given that subjection to prejudice can have a detrimental impact on children we discuss ways to ameliorate this form of testimonial injustice. We argue that, both in formal and natural contexts, the child's testimony should be evaluated alongside the relationships that support (or fail to support) her development as a testifier. The adult can play a central role in creating successful testimonial interactions with children by acting as a “responsible hearer.”

Copyright
Corresponding author
mdb32@psu.edu and dtollfsn@memphis.edu
References
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Episteme
  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
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