#BelieveWomen and the Ethics of Belief

In NOMOS LXIV: Truth and Evidence. New York: (forthcoming)
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​I evaluate a suggestion, floated by Kimberly Ferzan (this volume), that the twitter hashtag campaign #BelieveWomen is best accommodated by non-reductionist views of testimonial justification. I argue that the issue is ultimately one about the ethical obligation to trust women, rather than a question of what grounds testimonial justification. I also suggest that the hashtag campaign does not simply assert that ‘we should trust women’, but also militates against a pernicious striking-property generic (roughly: ‘women make false sexual assault accusations’), that distorts our evaluation of women’s testimony concerning sexual assault. I conclude #BelieveWomen does not demand that we believe against the evidence, or uncritically, or be more trusting than we have evidential justification to be. Rather, it aims to bring our trust closer to what is merited by the base-rate of reliable testimony from women concerning sexual assault.
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