Vulnerability, Ignorance, and Oppression




This paper aims to understand the relationship between ignorance and vulnerability by drawing on recent work on the epistemology of ignorance. After elaborating how we might understand the importance of human vulnerability, I develop the claim that ignorance of vulnerability is produced through the pursuit of an ideal of invulnerability that involves both ethical and epistemological closure. The ignorance of vulnerability that is a prerequisite for such invulnerability is, I contend, a pervasive form of ignorance that underlies and grounds other oppressive forms of ignorance. Thus, undoing such forms of ignorance requires working toward a particular form of vulnerability: epistemic vulnerability.