Institute of Philosophy

Research Projects

The Distinct Epistemic Injustice of Genocide Denialism

Inspired by contemporary (critical) social epistemology, this project aims at identifying the ethical-cum-epistemic implications of institutional and structural genocide denialism. Adopting scholarship on structural ignorance and epistemic injustice, I argue, first, that genocide denialism is a substantive epistemic practice of ignorance that is constituted not only by distortions of (historical) facts, but also distortions of social, moral and epistemic norms at the level of their social articulation. Secondly, I argue that it thereby produces pernicious ignorance that gives rise to epistemic oppression, identifying the latter as unjust (discriminatory) institutional constraints on the epistemic agency of members of the former victim group. Building on Miranda Fricker’s basic vocabulary on (discriminatory) epistemic injustice, I argue that genocide denialism hermeneutically oppresses members of the former victim group insofar as they are unjustly constrained in their morally and epistemically valuable capacity to collectively remember genocide; further, it gives rise to testimonial oppression, insofar as their testimony on genocide is persistently misunderstood, hence their speech systematically prevented from gaining uptake. By being denied equal moral and epistemic status, they are wronged in their capacities crucial for personhood and moral agency. Further, genocide denialism harms society as a whole, as it cultivates (moral-) epistemic vices and prevents relationships of solidarity and trust among its members. The project provides a differentiated examination of the perniciousness of genocide denialism and contributes to hitherto philosophically unexplored terrain, by enriching the ongoing debates about structural ignorance and epistemic injustice with a further relevant case study. A special focus is placed on Turkey's denialism of the Armenian genocide, since it presents an exemplary case of institutionalized and structural genocide denialism, and moreover it is an instance of historical denialism that continues to the present day. Thus, the project also fills a gap in scholarship on the Armenian genocide.

Workshop "Epistemic Injustice in the Aftermath of Collective Wrongdoing" (PDF, 4.8 MB)


The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF Doc.CH).