As part of a Joint Session in Feminist Theory. This series of events takes place as part of the seminar »Theory and Figurations of Gender Relations« (Freie Universität Berlin) and the doctoral program in Gender, Culture and Society (University of Helsinki). It is a cooperation between Esther von der Osten (Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin), Susanne Lettow (Margherita von Brentano Center for Gender Studies, Freie Universität Berlin) and Tuija Pulkkinen (Department of Cultures, Director doctoral program Gender, Culture and Society (SKY), University of Helsinki).
Kelly Oliver (Vanderbilt University)
Most feminist philosophers writing about gaslighting maintain that it is a type of epistemic injustice. That is to say, gaslighting undermines its target’s status as a knower by making them question what they believe they know. In this chapter, I argue that limiting gaslighting to a form of epistemic injustice cannot adequately explain either unintentional gaslighting or the ways in which the targets of gaslighting accept their deficit status as knowers and become complicit with their own gaslighting. Some feminist philosophers argue that there is a moral dimension to gaslighting whereby the target is made to feel immoral for questioning the reality of the perpetrator. Here, I argue that in addition to epistemic or moral dimensions, there is an affective dimension of gaslighting. The affective dimension is essential to its functioning, including the ways in which gaslighting undermines knowledge claims or moral standing. In other words, for gaslighting to work on either the epistemic or moral levels, it must be working on an affective level too. In addition, if gaslighting is unintentional, then there are unconscious dimensions to gaslighting that influence the beliefs and actions of both the perpetrators and the targets. Yet, to date, the gaslighting literature does not account for either the affective or unconscious dimensions of gaslighting, which are essential to understanding how gaslighting works.
Kelly Oliver is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of fifteen scholarly books, including, Response Ethics (Roman & Littlefield 2018), Carceral Humanitarianism: The Logic of Refugee Detention (University of Minnesota 2017); Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, (Columbia 2016); Earth and World: Philosophy After the Apollo Missions, (Columbia 2015). Animal Lessons: How They Teach us to be Human (Columbia 2009). She has also published three novels in The Jessica James, Cowgirl Philosopher, Mystery Series.
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