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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 35, 2019

Health, Well-Being, and Society

Karen C. Adkins
Pages 75-87

Gaslighting by Crowd

Most psychological literature on gaslighting focuses on it as a dyadic phenomenon occurring primarily in marriage and family relationships. In my analysis, I will extend recent fruitful philosophical engagement with gaslighting (Abramson, “Turning up the Lights on Gaslighting” [2014]; McKinnon, “Allies Behaving Badly: Gaslighting as Epistemic Injustice” [2017]; Ruiz, “Spectral Phenomenologies” [2014]) by arguing that gaslighting, particularly gaslighting that occurs in more public spaces like the workplace, relies upon external reinforcement for its success. I will ground this study in an analysis of the film Gaslight, for which the phenomenon is named, and in the course of the analysis will focus on a paradox of this kind of gaslighting: it wreaks significant epistemic and moral damages largely through small, often invisible actions that have power through their accumulation and reinforcement.

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