My research interests lie at the intersections of epistemology, feminist theory, and philosophy of race. I study the role of features presumed to be irrelevant in discussions surrounding knowledge, features like social identity and personal interests. My work aims to show that these features play a significant role in inquiry and knowledge acquisition.
PEER REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS
DEMARGINALIZING STANDPOINT EPISTEMOLOGY
In this paper I attempt to tease out the characterization of traditional epistemology that is at odds with standpoint epistemology. I offer a characterization of traditional epistemology that draws on two components that have been central to the critiques of leading standpoint epistemologists - the atomistic view of knowers and aperspectivalism. I use pragmatic encroachment as a dialectical tool to show that we ought to reject traditional epistemology so characterized. I then attempt to show how it is possible to have a view, similar to pragmatic encroachment, that instead takes social identity to be the feature that makes a difference to what a person is in a position to know.
FROM STANDPOINT EPISTEMOLOGY TO EPISTEMIC OPPRESSION
(2019, HYPATIA 34 (4): 598-618)
Standpoint epistemology is committed to a cluster of views that pay special attention to the role of social identity in knowledge acquisition. Of particular interest here is the situated knowledge thesis. This thesis holds that for certain propositions p, whether an epistemic agent is in a position to know that p depends on some non-epistemic facts related to the epistemic agent’s social identity. In this paper, I examine two possible ways to interpret this thesis. My first goal here is to clarify existing interpretations of this thesis that appear in the literature but that are undeveloped and often mistakenly conflated. In so doing, I aim to make clear the different versions of standpoint epistemology that one might accept and defend.
This project is of significance, I argue, because standpoint epistemology provides helpful tools for understanding a phenomenon of interest as of late - epistemic oppression. My second goal is to provide an analysis that makes clear how each of the readings I put forth can be used to illuminate forms of epistemic oppression.
WHAT LIES BENEATH: THE EPISTEMIC ROOTS OF WHITE SUPREMACY
(FORTHCOMING) IN ELIZABETH EDENBERG AND MICHAEL HANNON (EDS.), POLITICS & TRUTH: NEW PERSPECTIVES IN POLITICAL EPISTEMOLOGY. OXFORD
Our ability to dismantle white supremacy is compromised by the fact that we don’t fully appreciate what, precisely, white supremacy is. In this chapter, I suggest understanding white supremacy as an epistemological system – an epistemic frame that serves as the foundation for how we understand and interact with the world. The difficulty in dismantling an epistemological system lies in its resilience – a system’s capacity to resist change to its underlying structure while, at the same time, offering the appearance of large-scale reform. Using white supremacy as a case study, here I explore what features enable this resilience. An analysis of white supremacy that presents it as more than a tool of social and political oppression, but as an epistemic system that makes this oppression possible, allows us to better understand, and eventually overthrow, such systems.
BELIEVING IS SEEING: FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY, KNOWLEDGE, AND PERCEPTION
“Seeing is believing!”, or so the old adage goes. Roughly, the idea expressed by the adage is this: one needs to see x before one is willing to believe that x exists. In this chapter, I examine the extent to which it is more apt to say that believing is seeing. Expanding on the work of feminist epistemologists and critical race scholars, I consider a number of cases in which one needs to believe that x exists before one can see x. I then consider how reframing the relationship between seeing and believing can deepen our understanding of a wide range of social phenomena, ranging from police brutality to sexual harassment.
(2021) IN ELLY VINTIADIS (ED.), PHILOSOPHY BY WOMEN:
22 PHILOSOPHERS REFLECT ON PHILOSOPHY AND ITS VALUE. ROUTLEDGE.
MASCULINE FOES, FEMINIST WOES:
A RESPONSE TO DOWN GIRL
(2019, APA NEWSLETTER ON FEMINISM AND PHILOSOPHY 18(2): 10-14)
In her book, Down Girl, Manne proposes to uncover the 'logic' of misogyny, bringing clarity to a notion that she describes as both 'loaded' and simultaneously 'politically marginal'. Manne is aware that full insight into the 'logic' of misogyny will require not just a 'what' but a 'why'. Though Manne finds herself largely devoted to the former task, the latter is in the not-too-distant periphery. Manne proposes to understand misogyny, as a general framework, in terms of what it does to women. Misogyny, she writes, is a system that polices and enforces the patriarchal social order (Manne 2018: 33). That's the 'what'. As for the 'why', Manne suggests that misogyny is what women experience because they fail to live up to the moral standards set out for women by that social order. I find Manne's analysis insightful, interesting and well argued. And yet, I find her account incomplete. While I remain fully convinced by her analysis of what misogyny is, I am less persuaded by her analysis of why misogyny is. For a full analysis of the 'logic' of misogyny, one needs to understand how the patriarchy manifests in men an interest in participating in its enforcement. Or so I hope to motivate here. I aim to draw a line from the patriarchy to toxic masculinity to misogyny, so that we have a clearer picture as to why men are invested in this system. I thus hope to offer here an analysis that is underdeveloped in Manne's book, but is equally worthy of attention if we want fully to understand the complex machinations underlying misogyny.
WORKS IN PROGRESS*
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One might at first think that, when confronted by resistance, the socially powerful have three main options – to directly engage (e.g. in a dialogue), to push back (e.g. to try to coercively end resistance), or to ignore (e.g. to recognize the demands but simply refuse to do anything about them). But, the socially powerful have available to them a collection of craftier, more subtle responses. I argue that the socially powerful can manufacture opposition. Manufactured opposition undermines resistance movements by creating the appearance that there are justifiable reasons to oppose a particular movement, either through manipulating the public so that they come to view the target of resistance differently than the resisters intended, or through undermining the credibility of those engaged in resistance. Manufacturing opposition is a move open to the socially powerful when other means are inadequate to weakening these movements.
This project examines various moves deployed by the socially powerful to manufacture opposition to resistance. As I will show, these moves often retreat to and are buttressed by the very systems that are being challenged by resistance movements. Though manufactured opposition is not legitimate and should not pose a threat to resistance movements, it can and often does succeed in rendering these movements inefficacious. It is thus important that we come to understand how manufactured opposition works, both to delegitimize these maneuvers and to preserve the credibility of resistance movements and those engaged in such movements.
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Standpoint epistemologists are committed to the view that an epistemic agent’s social identity makes a difference in what propositions she is in a position to know. Relatedly, many standpoint epistemologists have identified the further claim that some epistemic privilege can be drawn from the position of powerlessness. Call this the epistemic privilege thesis. This thesis stands in need of explication and support. My first goal is to offer one way of developing this thesis by appealing to the notion of epistemic peers that is available in a separate literature. Next, using the epistemic privilege thesis, I aim to show that marginally situated knowers and dominantly situated knowers are not epistemic peers. In order to defend this claim, I first establish that marginalized knowers are epistemically privileged in the social domain. I then draw on the peer disagreement literature in order to show that, in the social domain, dominantly situated knowers fail to satisfy the conditions for peerhood as developed in that literature.
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