Abstract: This paper explores the relation between rational authority and social power, proceeding by way of a philosophical genealogy derived from Edward Craig’s Knowledge and the State of Nature. The position advocated avoids the errors both of the ‘traditionalist’ (who regards the socio-political as irrelevant to epistemology) and of the ‘reductivist’ (who regards reason as just another form of social power). The argument is that a norm of credibility governs epistemic practice in the state of nature, which, when socially manifested, is likely to imitate the structures of social power. A phenomenon of epistemic injustice is explained, and the politicizing implication for epistemology educed.
Comment: In this paper, Fricker lays out an approach to social epistemology, one that gives the field a particular tight connect to political philosophy. Suitable as an introductory reading for courses on social epistemology or epistemology in general.