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?