It is the injustice of having some significant area of one’s social experience obscured from collective understanding owing to a structural identity prejudice in the collective hermeneutical resource
Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation. Hermeneutical injustice is a subcategory of epistemic injustice wherein one has no labels/common terminology to describe or explain experiences to others. Historically has been applied in the context of exclusion of marginalized groups from activities which shape the language we use.
Identity affects experience, and experience makes a difference in our judgment.
It is always a form of powerlessness, whether structural or one-off. If one can simply opt-out, then it should not be considered hermeneutical injustice.
“the dominated live in a world structured by others for their purposes” (emphasis added)
This quotes from Nancy Hartsock has at least 3 different readings of the meaning of the word structured
- Materially: social institutions and practices favour the powerful
- Ontologically: the powerful constitute the social world
- Epistemologically: the powerful have an unfair advantage in structuring collective social understandings
Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance
In Relational Knowing and Epistemic Injustice: Toward a Theory of Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance by GAILE POHLHAUS, JR.
Positing that the sociality of the knower is epistemically significant
- Situatedness: the knower’s social position draw their attention to particular aspects of the world.
- Note, not as simple as the claim that different experiences lead to different knowledge. Not as strong as the claim that social position leads to automatic knowledge
- Situations resulting from one’s social positioning create common challenges that constitute part of the knower’s lived experience and contribute to the context from which they approach the world
- Interdependence: epistemic resources are by nature collective
- Lynn Nelson: “there are no ‘immediate’ experiences” Instead, within any given situation, our experience “is shaped and made possible by communal ways of organizing things, and systems of connected theories, methodologies, and practices”
- Related: language and terminology. Wittgenstein: “a language that in principle could be understood by only one person would not be a language at all”
It is important to note that being marginally situated leads not to “different” knowledge, but, as Harding has argued, to more objective knowledge (Harding 1991, 138-163)
The dominantly situated knower cannot step outside of her situatedness in order to experience the world as others do; however, she can learn to use epistemic resources developed from the experiences of marginalized knowers (same reason why disability simulation doesn’t work)
Willful hermeneutical ignorance: dominantly situated knower’s continued engagement in the world while refusing to learn to use epistemic resources developed from marginalized situatedness
The marginalized knower possesses a sort of double-consciousness.