The “All Lives Matter” response: QUD-shifting as epistemic injustice

Synthese 199 (3-4):8465-8483 (2021)
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Drawing on recent work in formal pragmatic theory, this paper shows that the manipulation of discourse structure—in particular, by way of shifting the Question Under Discussion mid-discourse—can constitute an act of epistemic injustice. I argue that the “All Lives Matter” response to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan is one such case; this response shifts the Question Under Discussion governing the overarching discourse from Do Black lives matter? to Which lives matter? This manipulation of the discourse structure systematically obscures the intended meaning of “Black lives matter” and disincentivizes future utterances of it.

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Jessica Keiser
University of Leeds


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