On Friday 18 October 2019 at Foyles Bookshop in London (Charing Cross Road), Prof Havi Carel delivered a talk ‘It’s hard to think without your pants on’: patients as knowers as part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s London Lectures – a series of wide-ranging talks by experts in the field of Social Epistemology. This year’s theme asks the question “How do we know?” and explores the social dimension of knowledge.
Knowledge is often thought of as something that we each individually have: something inside our own minds. But our knowledge depends on other people’s testimony and expertise. And what we know depends on what our society makes it possible for us to know, either formally or informally, through social norms and practices that suppress some ideas and privilege others.
In her talk, Prof Havi Carel examines how patient accounts are discounted, ignored, marginalised or otherwise deemed uncredible. Using Miranda Fricker’s concept of epistemic injustice, she characterises this problem as endemic to modern healthcare structures, ending by offering ameliorative strategies.