Privilege and Position: Formal Tools for Standpoint Epistemology

Res Philosophica 97 (4):489-524 (2020)
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Abstract

How does being a woman affect one’s epistemic life? What about being Black? Or queer? Standpoint theorists argue that such social positions can give rise to otherwise unavailable epistemic privilege. “Epistemic privilege” is a murky concept, however. Critics of standpoint theory argue that the view is offered without a clear explanation of how standpoints confer their benefits, what those benefits are, or why social positions are particularly apt to produce them. For this reason, many regard standpoint theory as being out of step with epistemology more broadly. But this need not be so. This article articulates a minimal version of standpoint epistemology that avoids these criticisms and supports the normative goals of its feminist forerunners. This account serves as the foundation for developing a formal model in which to explore standpoint epistemology using neighborhood semantics for modal logic.

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Catharine (Cat) Saint-Croix
University of Minnesota

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