I continue to be deeply impressed by the work that Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa is doing on Laura Kipnis’s book. There’s so much that’s important in this post, on the epistemological moves and assumptions that Kipnis makes. Here’s one small sample.
When she starts talking about specific cases, Kipnis brings in more explicit epistemological assumptions. In a passage spanning pp. 66–71, Kipnis questions the methods of Joan Slavin, a Northwestern University Title IX officer who investigated allegations that Professor Peter Ludlow had gotten an undergraduate student (“Cho” is her pseudonym) drunk, pressured her to come to his apartment, and groped her. Kipnis goes over competing descriptions of several elements of the night, expressing disagreement with Slavin’s judgments of Cho’s credibility. E.g.:
For instance, according to Slavin, Ludlow told Cho that he thought she was attractive, “discussed his desire to have a romantic and sexual relationship” with her, and shared sexual information, all of which was unwelcome to her.
I’m dying to know how Slavin came to the conclusion that Ludlow wanted to have a romantic relationship with Cho. Because an evening spent drinking and going to galleries indicates a man’s desire for a relationship? If so, single women of America, your problems are over. (71)
Kipnis wonders how Slavin came to the conclusion that Ludlow said he wanted to have a romantic relationship with Cho? The obvious answer is: Cho told her. Kipnis often reaches for strange explanations for simple conclusions when she disagrees with them. Here, Slavin listened to Cho tell her that Ludlow said he wanted to have a relationship with her, and concluded that Ludlow probably told Cho that he wanted to have a relationship with her. Kipnis hypothesizes that Slavin is employing the implicit premise that an evening spent drinking and going to galleries indicates a man’s desire for a romantic relationship. This is the kind of premise one might need if young women’s testimony carries no epistemic significance. But if we don’t assume that, there’s no need to reach for such bizarrities.
I find myself thinking that the literature on epistemic injustice will soon be filled with Kipnis examples.
To read the whole post (and you should), go here.