If you know you are not prejudiced, you can speak like a bigot.

Or:  Why reading newspapers can drive you crazy:

The Prince of Wales and his two sons call a polo-playing Asian friend by the nickname Sooty. The revelation comes two days after Prince Harry apologised for referring to a fellow former Sandhurst cadet as “our little Paki friend”.

The nickname Sooty is used by the princes to address Kuldip Dhillon, a wealthy property developer, ….

One member of the club, who asked not to be named, said that the sobriquet was a way of “putting two fingers up to political correctness”.** He added: “Charles, along with both of his boys, have called this chap Sooty because it is his nickname and he is perfectly comfortable with it. I suppose that we all see this as a sort of running joke about political correctness.” He added: “They [the princes] are no more racists than I am, and I use the word to address this chap whenever I see him, too.”

Last night Mr Dhillon said that the nickname was “a term of affection”. He said in a statement: “I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt.

It would be such fun to see Charles take a test on implicit bias.  But even supposing he passed, that doesn’t seem to be a good excuse for speaking with the bigots.

The article does bring in one objecting voice, and a palace spokesperson who seems to think that if you act to oppose racism, then you can speak  as you like.


**I take this to be the British equalivant of the North American  ‘giving the finger to’.

epistemic injustice?

In her book ‘Epistemic Injustice’ (previously discussed elsewhere on this blog), Miranda Fricker argues that only underestimations of a knower/speaker’s credibility (on the basis of stereotypes, roughly) should count as an epistemic injustice.

In considering cases of the inflation of an individual’s credibility, she suggests these are not harms to the person qua knower, so not properly understood as epistemic injustices. Whilst there may be cumulative harms attached to being attributed excess credibility (becoming complacent about one’s epistemic faculties due to thinking one is a better knowledge seeker than is in fact the case, say) she suggests a one-off case of credibility excess does not constitute a wrong to the knower.

I wonder, then, what we should make of this case reported in today’s news:

‘Judge tells female witness: you’re too believable’.

The witness in question was the victim of a violent robbery.

‘Judge Tabor told Bristol Crown Court: “Denise Dawson was a particularly impressive witness because she showed courage, clarity of thought and was undoubtedly honest. The jury may lend more weight to her evidence than her facts allow. You cannot be sure she got it right . . .’

This last sentence suggests there may be a mixed case, with excess and deficits of credibility attributed – the judge’s estimation that the jurors will inflate her credibility (over-attributing the virtue of sincerity), whilst perhaps deflating her credibility (wrt the virtue of accuracy) himself.

An interesting case. The full story is here. Any thoughts?