Disability and Knowing: On Social Epistemology’s Ableism Problem

In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford: (forthcoming)
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Abstract
This chapter canvases a number of ways that issues surrounding disability intersect with social epistemology, particularly how dominate norms concerning communication and ability can epistemically disadvantage some disabled individuals. We begin with a discussion of how social epistemology as a field and debates concerning epistemic injustice in particular fail to take the problem of ableism seriously. In section two, we analyze the concept of an individual’s “knowledge capacity,” arguing that it can easily misconstrue the extended, social nature of both knowledge and capacity/ability. In section three, we turn to issues of testimony and their relation to debates concerning disability and well-being. We address how the regular lack of uptake of disabled people’s testimony can lead to a number of structural rather than merely individual epistemic injustices, and we also consider how the very nature of some disabilities make testimonial issues more complicated. In our fourth and final section, we discuss various norms of social interaction and how they can systematically disadvantage Autistic people in particular.
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