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"A Critical Theory of Epistemic Injustice"

Perspectives: UCD Postgraduate Journal of Philosophy, Volume 9, Winter Special Issue: Social Philosophy, pp 281-301.

Kelly Agra (University College Dublin, Ireland)

A Critical Theory of Epistemic Injustice_Perspectives Volume 9
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Following developments in contemporary critical social theory and social epistemology that (re)think the interdependence of knowledge and society, I elucidate in this paper the recognitive dimension of epistemology. I do this by bringing into conversation the ideas of Miranda Fricker on epistemic injustice, the theory of communicative rationality by Jürgen Habermas, and the concept of intersubjective recognition by Axel Honneth. On the one hand, I stress the need for discussions on epistemic injustice to be informed by critical theories of recognition such as that of Habermas’ and Honneth’s, in order to provide a more robust account of the social-moral dimension of epistemic forms of injustice. On the other hand, I emphasize that there is also a need to rethink the role of epistemological discussions within critical theory and stress that social justice is impossible without epistemic and epistemological justice. Contrary to the tendency to reduce epistemic forms of injustice to social and moral pathologies, I argue that there are forms of injustices that while they are social and moral, they are specifically epistemic at the same time; that is, they are exerted and sustained through or against knowledges and knowers.

Keywords: Critical Theory, Social Epistemology, Epistemic Injustice, Theory of Communicative Rationality, Intersubjective Recognition


An earlier version of this paper was delivered at the UCD Social Philosophy PhD Symposium in 6 February 2021. This later on became the inspiration for Perspectives Volume 9, Special Issue in Social Philosophy.



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My research falls at the intersection of Critical Social Theory and Social Epistemology, but with specific attention to Decolonial and Feminist Critique. In my work, I develop the concepts of "(Mis)education" and "Epistemic Paralysis".

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