Children and Testimonial Injustice: A Response to Burroughs and Tollefsen
Department or Administrative Unit
Philosophy and Religious Studies
Michael Burroughs and Deborah Tollefsen (2016) claim that children are subject to widespread testimonial injustice. They argue that empirical data shows that children are prejudicially accorded less epistemic credibility in forensic contexts, and that this in turn shows that the same is true in broader contexts. While I agree that there is indeed testimonial injustice against children, I argue that Burroughs and Tollefsen exaggerate its severity and extent, by exaggerating children's testimonial reliability. Firstly, the empirical data do not quite support their claim about children's performance in forensic contexts. Secondly, while they advocate a relational conception of children's agency which emphasizes the role of adults in realizing their testimonial abilities, Burroughs and Tollefsen miss the full implications of such a conception for our evaluation of children's credibility, and for our behavior towards them in testimonial contexts. Thirdly, they underestimate the significance of children's limited general knowledge.
Bartlett, G. (2018). Children and Testimonial Injustice: A Response to Burroughs and Tollefsen. Episteme, 17(2), 178–194. https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2018.34
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