Talk: “White ignorance undermines internalism about epistemic blame”

By Veli Mitova (University of Johannesburg)

According to the standard story about blame, non-culpable ignorance is an excuse: if I don’t know that the drink I am giving you contains poison, I am blameless for poisoning you. White ignorance—the oppressor’s ignorance of the experiences of the oppressed—shares a surprising number of features with this kind of case despite being a clearly culpable form of ignorance. For instance, it is typically invisible to its owner, rendering her ignorant of its epistemic and moral harms. This makes the standard blame-story unable to account for the very real intuition that white ignorance is both morally and epistemically blameworthy. In this talk, I focus on epistemic blame. I first draw on the epistemic-excuses literature to argue that white ignorance is epistemically blameworthy. I then show that we can only make sense of this claim if we reject the reasons-internalism implicit in the standard story about epistemic blame.