Fixing Fricker’s Trustful Conversations: Removing Barriers by Getting Williams Right
In this paper I propose a friendly amendment to one aspect of Miranda Fricker’s theory as she presents it in “Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing” (2007). In particular, I argue that her idea of “mind steadying”– a concept she borrows from Bernard Williams – implicitly includes a high rationality requirement—so high, I argue, that it excludes cognitively atypical agents, and individuals with cognitive disabilities in particular, as possible participants. I also argue that, fortunately, this inadvertent barrier is a result of Fricker’s misrepresentation of Williams’s initial conception of mind steadying, and that by adjusting her account of mind-steadying to be closer to Williams’s original idea that barrier can be removed. But this adjustment does more than merely remove the unintended obstacle: it ultimately allows Fricker’s concept of mind steadying, and the “trustful conversations” it occurs in, to be a far more powerful tool for identifying and explaining a wide range of hitherto unrecognized epistemic injustices that cognitively atypical agents experience.