Epistemic injustice and deepened disgreement

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Sometimes ordinary disagreements become deep as a result of epistemic injustice. The paper explores a hitherto unnoticed connection between two phenomena that have received ample attention in recent social epistemology: deep disagreement and epistemic injustice. When epistemic injustice comes into play in a regular disagreement, this can lead to higher-order disagreement about what counts as evidence concerning the original disagreement, which deepens the disagreement. After considering a common definition of deep disagreement, it is proposed that the depth of disagreements is best understood as a matter of degree. Then, a case study of real-life disagreement is introduced: the disagreement about whether racism is a significant issue in the Netherlands, illustrated by the tradition of ‘Black Pete’. It is argued that there is disagreement about what counts as evidence in the case study because of two forms of epistemic injustice: testimonial and hermeneutical injustice. Specifically, there is disagreement about epistemic principles concerning whether private first-personal experience of racism is a weighty source of evidence in this domain, whether victims of racism count as important testifiers in this domain, and how to assess testimony that is not intelligible to you because it employs concepts and terminology you are unfamiliar with. By dismissing the relevant testimony and epistemic resources, the disagreement boils down to disagreement on the level of epistemic principles concerning,, and. Introducing injustice-based deep disagreement highlights moral and political aspects of disagreements that might seem factual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


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