Knowledge how and women surgeons’ experiences of epistemic injusticeKatrina Hutchison (Macquarie University)
SS 324 (Social Sciences Building, Level 3, Room 324)
La Trobe University
Abstract: Theories of epistemic injustice have potential to illuminate a variety of real-world situations where harm results from misjudging the credibility of a knower. One such context is the workplace. In this talk I will explore the relevance of epistemic injustice to women surgeons’ experiences of work, drawing on data from an empirical interview study. I argue that epistemic injustice understood narrowly (as Miranda Fricker has described it, focusing on testimonial and hermeneutical injustice) is only applicable to a fraction of the wrongs experienced by women surgeons in their capacity as knowers. One of the most significant limitations of Fricker’s account in this context is its intellectualism about knowledge. In surgery, credibility tracks the skilled performance of the worker: the knowledge that matters most to patients (and employers such as hospitals) is not the surgeon’s propositional knowledge, but their ability to enact knowledge of disease and anatomy through the successful hands-on performance of an operation. I argue that a non-intellectualist account of epistemic injustice could provide a more useful lens for understanding epistemic injustice in surgery, and in many other workplaces. I finish with some reflections on what such an account would look like.
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