Poisoning the Well and Epistemic Privilege

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8 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, a challenge is outlined for Walton's recent analysis of the fallacy of poisoning the well. An example of the fallacy in action during a debate on affirmative action on a South African campus is taken to raise the question of how Walton's analysis squares with the idea that disadvantaged parties in debates about race may be “epistemically privileged”. It is asked when the background of a participant is relevant to a debate and it is proposed that a proper analysis of the poisoning the well will outline conditions under which making one participant's background an issue in a debate would be legitimate and illegitimate. Expanding Walton's analysis to deal with the challenge, it is concluded that calling into question a participant's suitability to take part in a debate is never legitimate when it is based simply on a broad fact about their background (like their race or gender).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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