Epistemic injustice in healthcare: a philosophical analysis

Havi Hannah Carel, Ian James Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

309 Citations (Scopus)
3739 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we argue that ill persons are particularly vulnerable to epistemic injustice in the sense articulated by Fricker (Epistemic injustice. Power and the
ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). Ill persons are vulnerable to testimonial injustice through the presumptive attribution of characteristics like cognitive unreliability and emotional instability that downgrade the credibility of their testimonies. Ill persons are also vulnerable
to hermeneutical injustice because many aspects of the experience of illness are difficult to understand and communicate and this often owes to gaps in collective hermeneutical resources. We then argue that epistemic injustice arises in part owing to the epistemic privilege enjoyed by the practitioners and institutions of contemporary healthcare services—the former owing to their training, expertise, and third-person psychology, and the latter owing to their implicit privileging of certain styles of articulating and evidencing testimonies in ways that marginalise ill persons. We suggest that a phenomenological
toolkit may be part of an effort to ameliorate epistemic injustice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-540
Number of pages11
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number4
Early online date17 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science


  • Epistemic injustice
  • Illness
  • Patient experience
  • Phenomenology
  • Patient toolkit


Dive into the research topics of 'Epistemic injustice in healthcare: a philosophical analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this