Jump to accessibility statement Jump to content

94th Joint Session of the Mind Association and Aristotelian Society

94th Joint Session of the Mind Association and Aristotelian Society site image

SWIP: “My black friend says it’s fine”: Reflections on Disagreement, Ideology, and Testimony – Azita Chellappoo


  • Katharine Jenkins (SWIP moderator)

    10th July 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Welcome, everyone! Thanks to Azita for a brilliant talk, thanks to Rachel Paine who organized this panel on behalf of SWIP, and thanks to the Joint Session organizing team for hosting it.

    Over the weekend, please post your comments for Azita below and let’s get a good discussion going. Of course it goes without saying that we aim for a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. In addition, with the online format, it’s worth being as clear as possible whether you are posing a question or just offering a comment, and how many of each, so the speakers can respond to all your points (since unlike in our in-person panels, we’re not limited to one-question-per-question).

    Looking forward to the discussion!

  • Richard Rowland

    11th July 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Azita! Thanks for a great and very interesting paper. This is just a clarification, and is almost certainly me just not understanding the material harms view: why does the material harms view imply that Martha is justified and Janelle is not in your white saviour case?

    1. Azita Chellappoo

      11th July 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Richard, thank you for the question and glad you enjoyed the talk! So, as I understand it, under the Material Harms approach someone is justified if their belief is latching onto some actual structure of the world (such as systemic racism). In Amia Srinivasan’s paper, she has this example of a woman experiencing domestic violence and who comes to believe it’s appropriate, which Srinivasan gives as an example of ‘ideological distortion’, and where this woman is not justified in her belief. It seems to me that under the Material Harms approach Janelle in the White Saviour case would also be described in the same way. Hope this helps clarify!

      1. Richard Rowland

        11th July 2020 at 5:52 pm

        Great, thanks Azita, yes that helps a lot.

  • Lucienne Spencer

    11th July 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Azita, I really enjoyed your talk! I was wondering whether you have encountered Veronica Ivy’s ‘Allies behaving badly: Gaslighting as epistemic injustice’ (published under the name Rachel McKinnon)? Here she argues that ‘allies ought to place more epistemic weight, credibility and trust in the first person reports of marginalized situated knowers’ and ‘”Allies ought to put their own perceptions largely aside and trust the testimony of the marginalized person’ (McKinnon, 2017: 171). She goes as far as to say that allyship ought to be replaced with ‘active bystanders’. This is supported through examples of epistemic injustice where the testimony of a trans person is wrongly dismissed by a trans ally, as the ally assumes an epistemic privilege. Could you perhaps say a bit more about how your amendment of standpoint theory responds to such cases?
    Many thanks!

    1. Azita Chellappoo

      12th July 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Lucienne, thanks for this interesting question and glad you enjoyed the talk! Yes, I think I’ve read this chapter. As far as I can recall, the kinds of cases that Ivy is discussing are those where both the Material Harms approach + my amendment would be in agreement/would be able to handle well – cases that are somewhat analogous to the Sexist Taxi Driver case, where a marginalised person latches on to a real structure (e.g., systemic transphobia/racism/sexism) and forms a justified belief due to reliable mechanisms (including lived experience), and someone from a dominant group disagrees. So I think introducing this value of authenticity or something similar would provide an additional justification for these cases, and perhaps help explain why so-called ‘allies’ come to behave in the ways Ivy outlines.

      1. Lucienne Spencer

        12th July 2020 at 1:26 pm

        I understand, thanks very much for this, and thanks again for your talk!

  • Liam Kofi Bright

    11th July 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Azita, thanks for the talk! I have a question which is kind of just picking up on a tangent, but also I think it would help me understand how your account would be applied to the sort of cases at the end. As a way of fleshing out the achievement thesis with a description of ways in which additional properties/virtues of a person might allow lived experience to be surprising in the right kind of way you mention “authenticity”. Can you say a bit more about the epistemic virtue/property of authenticity and how it would play this role? (Sorry if I have misunderstood!)

    1. Azita Chellappoo

      12th July 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Liam, thanks! This is a really good question, and something that is not fully worked out in my mind just yet! Currently my thinking is that ‘authenticity’ can be cashed out in terms of something like an epistemic value/virtue that arises when the topic is ‘about you’ in a particular way (perhaps most helpful when thinking about aspects of social identity). I think that the achievement thesis runs into the problem of how to determine when a standpoint has been achieved or what it means to achieve a standpoint, and something like ‘authenticity’ would provide a reason to give further weight to lived experience, even in cases where on the face of it we may think someone’s position is mistaken. I think it would be a reason to give (at least) closer consideration to some beliefs arising from individuals from marginalised social locations, because of this capacity for lived experience to disrupt/surprise what we previously thought constituted a liberatory standpoint.

  • Fiona Woollard

    11th July 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Not a question, just a comment that I really enjoyed your talk.

  • Inga Bones

    12th July 2020 at 7:35 am

    Hi Azita,

    Thanks a lot for your talk, which I really enjoyed!

  • Rachel Paine

    12th July 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Azita,

    Thanks so much for your talk. The discussion has raised so many great areas for further thinking. I was interested in ideas about how the experience of person who has lived with sexism, or racism or homophobia, say, just does have the authority to name what’s going on. This is so often very quickly denied, and often it seems it is denied precisely because they don’t have ‘authority’ in the standard ways.

    Thanks again, great talk, great discussion!