Freier on environmental harm and hermeneutical injustice

IMG_1478 Just before 10 AM, our conference’s second speaker, Blake Freier, began his talk “Hermeneutical Injustice and Environmental Harm.”

My presentation explores the relationship which exists between epistemic injustice and environmental/intergenerational justice. I argue that the lack of inclusion of the perspectives of future generations creates a hermeneutical lacuna in our own current knowledge base and that this lacuna in our understanding is a contributing factor to climate change. I then provide a solution to filling this gap.
During the subsequent Q and A, Blake fielded a question about the nature of hermeneutical injustice, which he explained by using examples from Fricker’s book Epistemic Injustice.
Neil then presented a neo-Malthusian view for Blake to reply to, asking why we shouldn’t just engage in population control and minimize harm by minimizing the number of future people? Blake took on Neil’s question, and then maneuvered carefully through a set of questions from Renato and Gary about the possibilities for extending the class of rights holders and the implications of taking this route. After Gary noted some of the potential problems/pitfalls of such an extension of the class of rights holders, Blake explained this was why he did not take this route out of the non-identity problem, favoring instead Elizabeth Harman’s harm-based approach.
The topic turned again when Rocky suggested that we might distinguish cases of  epistemic negligence from cases characterized by malicious epistemic intent: did Blake have a response to the second kind of case or just the first? Blake was prepared for this question, having fielded a version of it previously in the research seminar. He explained his view about how the two types of ignorance might be connected: if we can remedy ignorance due to mere negligence, this can increase social pressure over time facing perpetrators with malign intent, practitioners of epistemic interference, and perhaps decrease the effectiveness  of their attempts, and/or their or social license.
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