Nonhuman Animals and Epistemic Injustice

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 25 (1) (2023)
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In this paper, I argue that nonhuman animals can be subject to epistemic injustice. I consider Miranda Fricker’s (2007) account of the nature of the harm of epistemic injustice and highlight that it requires that a knower be invested in being recognized as a knower. I argue that a focus on know-how, rather than testimony or concepts for self-understanding and communication, can serve to highlight how nonhuman animals can suffer epistemic injustice without an investment in recognition, by focusing on distributive justice concerning epistemic goods. Drawing from work in animal ethology and movement ecology, I argue that human interruption of animal lifeways has negative downstream effects on nonhuman animals’ ability to acquire ‘answers’ to ‘questions’ they have an interest in answering: namely, acquiring both true beliefs about conspecifics and their environment, as well as acquisition of behaviors and skills that enable everyday successful coping, and that these interruptions can constitute epistemic injustice.

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Andrew Lopez
Queen's University


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