Discussion to focus on advocacy and validity of knowledge

When social issues arise, who truly has the knowledge that will affect how policies are made? A discussion on Friday, November 9, will focus on climate change, as well as the questions of who the “knowers” or experts are, and whose knowledge claims can be taken seriously.

In her free public talk entitled “Care, Concern, and Advocacy: Is There A Place For Epistemic Responsibility?” Lorraine Code will examine advocacy practices inside of climate change debates and explore the concept of epistemic responsibility. This responsibility involves adjusting our way of interpreting our beliefs and that of others to determine which, if any, are valid.

Dr. Code is a distinguished research professor emerita in philosophy at York University and the author of Epistemic Responsibility (1987), What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge (1991), Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on (Gendered) Locations (1995), and Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location (2006).

Political science professor Cheryl Collier says her work addresses issues of power disparity.

“The people who end up being acknowledged as experts have more influence on what is considered valid knowledge. This gives them the power to drive their own agenda, which may negatively affect the collective,” she says. “It is the responsibility of these experts to focus on ethical care issues and advocacy to improve society.”

This concept further relates to violence against women and the continuous scramble to dictate how the debate goes, says Dr. Collier.

“Dr. Code’s work on the feminist system directly affects this topic,” she explains. “Advocacy for policy solutions on violence against women causes a never-ending battle between the experts, or the law makers, and those who actually work with women and understand the causes and consequences.”

The event, at 1:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall’s McPherson Lounge, is presented by the Health Research Centre for the Study of Violence against Women, which unites many researchers and trainees interested in the causes of violence against women, its prevention and the rehabilitation of its effects. For more information, visit the event Web site.

by Chantelle Myers