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  • Writer's pictureCrone

A land squid?

The world is astonishing when you pay attention!

And attention is much on my mind, as you know. So, I thought I would offer the results of my labours over the past weeks. The references aren't there yet and it's not been proof read, but, here is the introduction...


In this paper I will argue that a particular conception of attention can enable epistemic justice in the treatment of those with mental disorders. While epistemic justice, as a noble target to aim at, has been discussed widely since Miranda Fricker coined the phrase, how to approach that target has received rather less attention (no pun intended).

I have chosen to use the term ‘mental disorders’, but that does not mean that I am committed to a particular definition of what precisely constitutes ‘mental disorder’. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss whether mental disorders are natural kinds or socially constructed. For the purposes of this argument, I am thinking of people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness following the diagnostic criterion in DSM-V or the ICD.

In the first section, I will introduce epistemic justice and consider the importance of its role in the treatment of those with mental disorders. Section II explores attention, drawing on the work of Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch and expanding its scope by examining a view of empathy highlighted by Dan Zahavi and Elise Aaltola. Finally, in Section IV, I will demonstrate that ‘attending’ to patients is key in developing a therapeutic relationship based on epistemic trust. Although therapists are already trained, using varied terminology, to practice skills which enable epistemic trust, I believe that the conception of attention I develop here provides both a clearer description or guide for trainee therapists and also highlights the ethical importance of epistemic justice in the mental health domain.

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