Professor Alison Reiheld, Department of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
I Can Hardly Credit It: Epistemic Injustice in the Practice of Medicine
The relationship between patients and health care providers is structured by ethical obligations of care. But it is also structured by epistemic norms of authority and testimony. When should providers take patient knowledge, and especially patient knowledge of their own bodies and lives, seriously? Why do providers doubt patient testimony in these areas? I argue that all too often, the way that providers respond to the testimony of certain classes of patients about certain topics is marked by epistemic injustice. Provider mistrust of patient testimony by women, gender and sexuality minorities, fat people, and African-Americans is routine, especially with respect to certain domains of knowledge which align with stereotypes and generalizations about these groups. Only once we are aware of these patterns can we watchfully counter them in order to provide more ethical care with better patient outcomes.