Other People’s Problems

Student Distancing, Epistemic Responsibility, and Injustice
Studies in Philosophy and Education
Matt S. Whitt
June, 2015
peer-reviewed article

In classes that examine entrenched injustices like sexism or racism, students sometimes use “distancing strategies” to dissociate themselves from the injustice being studied. Education researchers argue that distancing is a mechanism through which students, especially students of apparent privilege, deny their complicity in systemic injustice. While I am sympathetic to this analysis, I argue that there is much at stake in student distancing that the current literature fails to recognize. On my view, distancing perpetuates socially sanctioned forms of ignorance and unknowing, through which students misrecognize not only their complicity in injustice, but also the ways that injustice shapes the world, their lives, and their knowledge.

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