Epistemic Injustice in Late-Stage Dementia: A Case for Non-Verbal Testimonial Injustice

Lucienne Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The literature on epistemic injustice has thus far confined the concept of testimonial injustice to speech expressions such as inquiring, discussing, deliberating, and, above all, telling. I propose that it is time to broaden the horizons of testimonial injustice to include a wider range of expressions. Controversially, the form of communication I have in mind is non-verbal expression. Non-verbal expression is a vital, though often overlooked, form of communication, particularly for people who have certain neurocognitive disorders. Dependency upon non-verbal expression is a common feature of some forms of neurocognitive disorders such as ‘intellectual disabilities’, autism and late-stage dementia. According to the narrow definition of testimonial injustice currently championed in the literature, people who express non-verbally are exempt from testimonial injustice. However, when we consider cases where meaningful communications from non-verbal people are dismissed or ignored in virtue of identity prejudice, there seems to be a distinct testimonial harm at play. Using late-stage dementia as a case study, I argue that the definition of testimonial injustice should be expanded to include all communicative practices, whether verbal or non-verbal, to encompass the epistemic harms inflicted upon some of the most marginalised in our society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Epistemology
Early online date20 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2022

Keywords

  • Epistemic Injustice
  • Testimonial Injustice
  • Dementia
  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Phenomenology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Epistemic Injustice in Late-Stage Dementia: A Case for Non-Verbal Testimonial Injustice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this