Fear Generalization and Mnemonic Injustice

Episteme (forthcoming)
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This paper focuses on how experiences of trauma can lead to generalized fear of people, objects and places that are similar or contextually or conceptually related to those that produced the initial fear, causing epistemic, affective, and practical harms to those who are unduly feared and those who are intimates of the victim of trauma. We argue that cases of fear generalization that bring harm to other people constitute examples of injustice closely akin to testimonial injustice, specifically, mnemonic injustice. Mnemonic injustice is a label that has been introduced to capture how injustice can occur via the operation of human memory systems when stereotypes shape what is remembered. Here we argue that injustices can also occur via memory systems when trauma leads to a generalized fear. We also argue that this calls for a reformulation of the notion of mnemonic injustice.

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