2016 Res Philosophica Essay Prize

Philosophy of Disability

Prize Winner: Josh Dohmen
" 'A Little of Her Language': Epistemic Injustice and Mental Disability" (click ‘show document’ for the free download)
Abstract (Show/Hide)
In this essay, I argue that certain injustices faced by mentally disabled persons are epistemic injustices by drawing upon epistemic injustice literature, especially as it is developed by Miranda Fricker. First, I explain the terminology and arguments developed by Fricker, Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., and Kristie Dotson that are useful in theorizing epistemic injustices against mentally disabled people. Second, I consider some specific cases of epistemic injustice to which mentally disabled persons are subject. Third, I turn to a discussion of severely mentally disabled persons who, because they are unable to share information or develop interpretations of shared social experiences, may fall outside Fricker's discussion of epistemic injustice. Fourth and finally, following arguments given by Kristie Dotson and Christopher Hookway, I define and explain a type of epistemic injustice: intimate hermeneutical injustice that I believe supplements other discussions of epistemic injustice.
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Josh Dohmen is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Philosophy at the University of West Georgia. His research interests include feminist philosophy and twentieth-century continental philosophy, especially in relation to ethical and political questions about disability, prisons, education, and labor. He has published in Hypatia. He is currently working on two projects. The first aims to develop an account of epistemic justice in interactions with those who experience delusions and hallucinations. The second is a philosophical investigation of the meaning and value of work in the context of the contemporary United States.
Original Call For Papers (Show/Hide)

Philosophy of Disability

Deadline for Submission: February 1, 2016

Prize: $3,000

Call for Papers

Res Philosophica invites papers on the topic of the philosophy of disability for the 2016 Res Philosophica Essay Prize and a special issue of the journal. The author of the winning paper will receive a prize of $3,000, and the paper will be published in the associated special issue of the journal on the same topic. Submissions for the prize will be automatically considered for publication in the journal's special issue unless otherwise requested.


Submissions addressing any of the many philosophical questions about disability are welcome. Topics may involve issues in, for example, ethics, social and political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of law, history of philosophy, or feminist philosophy. The following questions represent merely a small sample of the questions that might be addressed in papers related to the theme of this special issue:

What is the nature of disability? Are there different types or kinds of disability? Are challenges faced by persons with disabilities wholly or primarily due to social prejudice against them?

What implications does disability have for theories of wellbeing? Theories of justice? For example: Might accounting for disability require us to reject distributive theories of justice?

What can recent psychological work on disability teach us about moral responsibility? To what degree do our ethical obligations towards a person depend on his or her capacities?

How should we think about the testimony of disabled persons concerning whether they would prefer to be disabled or non-disabled? Would discounting it, for example, involve a sort of epistemic injustice?

How should disability affect how we understand agency in general, or free agency? Does disability affect capacitarian or essentialist views of human nature?

These are only a few of the many topics papers might address. Papers that address other topics in the philosophy of disability are welcome.

Accepted papers will be published with invited papers by Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Adam Cureton, Jennifer Hawkins, Eva Kittay, and Anita Silvers.


Submissions will be triple anonymously reviewed. (First, authors do not know the identity of the referees, second, referees do not know the identity of the authors, and third, editors do not know the identity of the authors.) Please format your submission so that it is suitable for anonymous review. (Instructions are available here.)

We do not normally publish papers longer than 12,000 words long (including footnotes).

We prefer submissions in pdf format, though we will Microsoft Word documents. Papers may be submitted in any standard style, but authors of accepted papers will be required to edit their papers according to the journal’s style, which follows The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition). Style instructions are available here.

Please use the online submission form for submitting your essay, available here.