Volume 25, 2009
Gender, Diversity, and Difference
Speaking for Others
Epistemology and Ethics
In this paper, I explore risks and responsibilities associated with speaking for others. I argue that, contrary to the recent philosophical literature on the subject, speaking for others is not always epistemically or politically illegitimate. Moreover, epistemological justification is not the only important consideration when trying to determine if we should speak for others. Ethical justification also matters and can override epistemological worries. Indeed, sometimes we should speak for others though we cannot know their experience. I identify and evaluate five kinds of speaking for others. I end by exploring some of the implications of my analysis
for social justice for women and girls internationally.