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Global health justice: epistemic theory and pandemic practice
  1. Kenneth Boyd
  1. Biomedical Teaching Organisation, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kenneth Boyd, Biomedical Teaching Organisation, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK; K.Boyd{at}

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What does justice in global health bioethics require, and how might we achieve it? Two important contributions to this issue of the Journal address theoretical and practical aspects of these questions in different but complementary ways. From their careful analysis of ‘epistemic injustice’ in global health ethics (‘injustice as it applies to knowledge’ which in one way or another puts a person at a disadvantage), Pratt and de Vries1 conclude that to achieve justice, much depends on what is meant by ‘we’ (‘the people designing, conducting and using knowledge from research’) as well as the ‘what’ (‘the overall purpose/goal’) and the ‘where’ (‘the context in which it is undertaken’) of research. At present, they argue, epistemic injustice in bioethics is characterised by ‘coloniality of knowledge’: the ‘silencing of the epistemologies, theories, principles, values, concepts, and experiences of the global South’ is evident, for example, in ‘an ignoring or rejection of the plurality of knowledge’ and the ‘presentation of the works of a few European philosophers as “universal truths”’. ‘Cognitive justice’, by contrast, ‘affirms the epistemological diversity of the world’ and draws ‘attention to inequalities in the knowledge that is valued in today’s world, including …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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