Epistemic Justice for the Dead

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Cancel culture, epistemic justice, Merton, public sociology, sociological classics

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The classics of social theory have a peculiar status: our current list is the product of past academic strategizing, and the list of favored classics has changed. Currently there is a process of replacing them with older writers who better fit current concerns, and to cancel those who hold the wrong views, or are of the oppressor class, in order to provide epistemic justice for those who don’t deserve their status and uplift those who were wrongly neglected. From an instrumental, careerist point of view, adapting to these changes makes sense. From the point of view of judgement, which differs from the capacity to produce, it does not. Exclusions narrow our range of reference and our capacity to assess in the present. We owe ourselves, and them, not only temporary, fashion driven justice but a larger capacity of judgement detached from the instrumentalization of scholarship.

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Journal of Classical Sociology, v. 21, issue 3-4, p. 307-322