Do The Oppressed Really Know Best?

Spencer Case

Editors Note: This article was originally published on Arc and is written by NAS member Spencer Case.

Many intellectuals and activists believe that oppressed groups have special knowledge in virtue of their “lived experience” of oppression. According to this view, outsiders suffer an epistemic deficiency that they will only be able to remedy if they come to see and feel as the oppressed do. Until then, the oppressed deserve deference on a range of important issues.

A new effort of the British government reported in the Daily Telegraph appears to be guided by this theory. White male professors are to be paired with “reverse mentors” — younger, non-white female academics — in order to help the elderly mentees confront their biases. Since the junior mentors have less experience as scholars, their suitability as mentors must stem from their identities as marginalized individuals.

Despite the prevalence of this view, I’ve found no compelling evidence that one’s “lived experience” generally contributes much in the way of knowledge about public issues. Nor that marginalization provides grounds for intellectual deference.

Read the full article here >>


Image: stormtrooper star wars lego by aitoff // CC BY

  • Share

Most Commented

August 17, 2021

1.

Fermilab Concedes to Woke Physicists

Known for its powerful particle accelerator, Fermilab epitomizes American physics research. But after accusations of racism, a group of woke physicists now controls the lab....

October 11, 2021

2.

The Shame of MIT: Canceling Dorian Abbot

Professor Abbot was set to deliver MIT's prestigious Carlson Lecture—that is, until he was canceled for his views on DEI programs, earning him a prompt disinvitation....

October 5, 2021

3.

NAS Statement on Gender Ideology in Higher Education

The National Association of Scholars opposes the proliferation of gender ideology in American higher education....

Most Read

October 11, 2021

1.

The Shame of MIT: Canceling Dorian Abbot

Professor Abbot was set to deliver MIT's prestigious Carlson Lecture—that is, until he was canceled for his views on DEI programs, earning him a prompt disinvitation....

October 5, 2021

2.

NAS Statement on Gender Ideology in Higher Education

The National Association of Scholars opposes the proliferation of gender ideology in American higher education....

May 15, 2015

3.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....