Nonhuman Animals and Epistemic Injustice

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (forthcoming)
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In this paper, I argue that nonhuman animals can be subject to epistemic injustice. I consider Miranda Fricker’s account of the harm of epistemic injustice and highlight that it requires a knower to be invested in being recognized as a knower. I argue that a turn away from a focus on testimony and concepts toward a consideration of the consequences of the distribution of epistemic resources can allow us to consider how epistemic injustice interacts with another form of knowledge: know-how. Here, feminist philosophy and feminist naturalized epistemology can help us understand how social and material conditions can unjustly affect the distribution of these resources among communities of nonhuman animals. Despite not having an investment in being recognized as knowers, nonhuman animals can be subject to epistemic injustice when their acquisition of know-how is disrupted. I draw from work in animal ethology and movement ecology to argue that distributive epistemic injustice wrongs nonhuman animals by hindering their ability to acquire 'answers' to 'questions' they have an interest in answering, namely, acquiring true beliefs about conspecifics and their environment, behaviors and skills that enable everyday successful coping, and information for the distributed cognition involved in group decision-making.

Author's Profile

Andrew Lopez
Queen's University


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