Research Workshop: "Developing Just Epistemic Standards for Sufferers of Anorexia Nervosa"

Fran Fairbairn (CSU Bakersfield)

Friday, January 20th, 2023 (12:10-2:00 PM) Baker (Bldg. 180) Room 114


When I was a teenager, I played a lot of video games. As a result, I also knew a lot about them. But, when I tried to discuss gaming with others, they would doubt my expertise and often suspect that I was just a ‘poser’ who was lying about what or how much they played. This experience was harmful to me. And, since this skepticism was based in stereotypes about women – ‘girls don’t play video games’ – it was also unjust. Philosophers call this epistemic injustice.
I will investigate how sufferers of anorexia nervosa might experience something analogous to this. A person whose anorexia is in remission will systematically find that they are doubted if they claim that they want to adjust their diet with a view to losing weight for health reasons. Their testimony (when it is related to dieting) will receive much more doubt (both in terms of their accuracy and their sincerity) than the equivalent testimony of someone who has not suffered from anorexia. And they will have to provide a lot more evidence to prove that their motives and accuracy are good.
Is this analogous to my gaming experience? Are sufferers of anorexia unjustly wronged by these experiences? I will investigate these questions with a view to adding nuance to our understanding of knowledge-related injustices, especially as those injustices relate to our standards for evidence.
Fran Fairbairn is Assistant Professor at CSU, Bakersfield with primary research interests in Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Social Epistemology, and the Philosophy of Education and Pedagogy.

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