Solving the Problem of Epistemic Exclusion: A Pragmatist Feminist Approach
Contemporary feminist philosophers would do well, I suggest in this chapter, to explore Richard Rorty’s discursive theory of social progress to ﬁ nd an answer to the following question: how can one challenge the norms and practices of knowing that help to constitute a community when one is unjustly excluded from invoking those norms or participating in those practices because of who one is, how one speaks, or what one says? I call this situation the problem of epistemic exclusion. My account of the phenomenon of epistemic exclusion depends upon and will render explicit three things. First, epistemic norms and practices, which play the role of dictating those ways of knowing any particular community ﬁ nds acceptable, canand have been-constructed so as to unjustly exclude individuals in the past; second, this exclusion demonstrates epistemic norms and practices are not ﬁ xed or universal but rather are constructed and contingent; and, third, to challenge such norms and practices, an alternative method that does not rely upon but rather works from outside the prescribed norms and practices constituting the hegemonic epistemic imaginary is required. These are the three claims for which I will be arguing in this chapter.