Jeremy reviews José Medina’s The Epistemology of Resistance in this article from Feminist Legal Studies.
If truth seeking and the quest for knowledge are at the heart of the legal process, then inequality is the enemy of law. In oppressive situations, epistemic relationships go askew, and the inequality created by, through, or from this oppression handicaps the capacity to know. As José Medina puts it in his book The Epistemology of Resistance, ‘social injustices breed epistemic injustices’; they are two sides of the same coin (27). Oppressive dogma, such as sexism, racism, and homophobia, instil in epistemic actors a cognitive distrust thereby forcing minorities to try to ‘legitimate’ their way of thinking (Austin 1989, 540). Put another way, oppressive ideologies lead people to under- or over-estimate the cognitive capacities of not only others, but of themselves. A failure to recognise such capacities can moreover serve as a foundation for biases and prejudices that distort perception, judgment, and reasoning.