Empathy and a Life of Moral Endeavor

Hypatia 31 (1):171-186 (2016)
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Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey contributed many invaluable insights that help to make sense of both injustice and resistance. Specifically, she developed an account of what she called “civilized oppression,” which is pernicious in part because it can be difficult to perceive. One way that we ought to pursue what she calls a “life of moral endeavor” is by increasing our perceptual awareness of civilized oppression and ourselves as its agents. In this article I argue that one noxious form of civilized oppression is what Miranda Fricker calls “testimonial injustice.” I then follow Harvey in arguing that one of the methods by which we should work to avoid perpetrating testimonial injustice is by empathizing with others. This is true for two reasons. The first is that in order to manifest what Fricker calls the virtue of testimonial justice, we must have a method by which we “correct” our prejudices or implicit biases, and empathy serves as such a corrective. The second is that there are cases where the virtue of testimonial justice wouldn't in fact correct for testimonial injustice in the way that Fricker suggests, but that actively working to empathize would
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