Foucault and Epistemic Injustice (part 1)
By Gordon Hull, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 27 September 2022
Those of us who have both made extensive use of Foucault and made a foray into questions of epistemic injustice have tended to sweep the question of the relation between the two theoretical approaches under the rug. Miranda Fricker’s book, which has basically set the agenda for work on epistemic injustice, acknowledges a substantial debt to Foucault, but in later work she backs away from the ultimate implications of his account of power on the grounds that his historicism undermines the ability to make normative claims. In this her argument makes a fairly standard criticism of Foucault (whose “refusal to separate power and truth” she aligns with Lyotard’s critique of metanarratives (Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, 55). As she describes her own project:
“What I hoped for from the concept of epistemic injustice and its cognates was to mark out a delimited space in which to observe some key intersections of knowledge and power at one remove from the long shadows of both Marx and Foucault, by forging an on-the-ground tool of critical understanding that was called for in everyday lived experience of injustice … and which would rely neither on any metaphysically burdened theoretical narrative of an epistemically well-placed sex-class, nor on any risky flirtation with a reduction of truth or knowledge to de facto social power” (Routledge Handbook, 56).