Philosophy Faculty Publications and Presentations

A Right to Understand Injustice: Epistemology and the “Right to the Truth” in International Human Rights Discourse

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People's “right to truth” or their “right to know” about their government's human rights abuses is a growing consensus in human rights discourses and a fertile area of work in international and humanitarian law. In most discussions of this right to know the truth, it is commonly seen as requiring the state or international institutions to provide access to evidence of the violations. In this paper, I argue that such a right naturally has many epistemic aspects, and the tools of social epistemology can be helpful in elucidating what such a right entails. As a beginning for this project, I draw on those resources to argue that the right to know the truth is only meaningful if it includes a right to understand the abuses, and that such understanding can only come through the development of community epistemic capacities. Given this, I further argue that the state has a duty to support the development of these capacities, and that a critical place for beginning this process is in public schools.


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The Southern Journal of Philosophy