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Hermeneutical Injustice, Perspective-Taking, and Empathy

Dr. Audrey Yap

Dr. Audrey Yap, University of Victoria, will be coming to the University of Utah Friday September 1, 2017.

Tanner Library, room 459.

Hermeneutical Injustice, Perspective-Taking, and Empathy

Extensions of Miranda Fricker’s conception of hermeneutical injustice have argued that the collective gap in hermeneutical resources is not symmetrical. That is, while a marginalized group might in fact possess the resources with which to make sense of their own experience, there might be a lack of uptake of those resources throughout society as a whole. Thus, while those occupying marginalized social locations may have the hermeneutical resources with which to communicate their experiences to each other, they may lack the resources to make those experiences intelligible to people external to their marginalized community. One useful contribution to this literature is a recent paper by Katharine Jenkins discussing hermeneutical injustice in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, using some conceptual apparatus from Sally Haslanger, distinguishing between our manifest and our operative concepts. While we may be able to, in principle, recognize a situation as falling under our manifest concept of sexual assault, it may be sufficiently far removed from our operative concept, that we are in practice unlikely to recognize it as such. While Jenkins suggests one solution, namely, working against rape myths as a source of distorted concepts, I want to consider the more general case of detecting hermeneutical gaps in the first place. In particular, I want to consider the extent to which empathy for others can help us determine when we are lacking the epistemic resources to communicate properly with those occupying different social locations.

Last Updated: 8/28/17