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Epistemic injustice in psychiatric practice: epistemic duties and the phenomenological approach
  1. Anna Drożdżowicz
  1. Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Anna Drożdżowicz, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, 0315 Oslo, Norway; anna.drozdzowicz{at}


Epistemic injustice is a kind of injustice that arises when one’s capacity as an epistemic subject (eg, a knower, a reasoner) is wrongfully denied. In recent years it has been argued that psychiatric patients are often harmed in their capacity as knowers and suffer from various forms of epistemic injustice that they encounter in psychiatric services. Acknowledging that epistemic injustice is a multifaceted problem in psychiatry calls for an adequate response. In this paper I argue that, given that psychiatric patients deserve epistemic respect and have a certain epistemic privilege, healthcare professionals have a pro tanto epistemic duty to attend to and/or solicit reports of patients’ first-person experiences in order to prevent epistemic losses. I discuss the nature and scope of this epistemic duty and point to one interesting consequence. In order to prevent epistemic losses, healthcare professionals may need to provide some patients with resources and tools for expressing their experiences and first-person knowledge, such as those that have been developed within the phenomenological approach. I discuss the risk of secondary testimonial and hermeneutical injustice that the practice of relying on such external tools might pose and survey some ways to mitigate it.

  • psychiatry
  • ethics
  • philosophical ethics

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  • Contributors AD is the sole contributor to this paper.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Mobility Grant Fellowship Programme (FRICON) funded by The Research Council of Norway and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Programme (project number: 275251).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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