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Hoving, L.V.

Departement of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

Does True Ignorance exempt from the Obligation to Resist Oppression?

The oppressed has a morally serious obligation to resist her own oppression, and Carol Hay and Ann Cudd argue that no oppressed is ever exempt from this obligation, no matter the situation the oppressed finds herself in. Even if she finds herself in a position where she does not and cannot know she is being oppressed.

However, we cannot expect an agent to act in accordance with a moral obligation if she has no knowledge of this obligation and has no means of discovering that she has this obligation (aside from being a moral genius). I thus argue that there are women who are exempt from the obligation to resist their own oppression.

I argue that the women who are exempt from this obligation are those who have internalised their oppression (i.e. their own oppression is so ingrained in them that it seems the natural order of things). They thus have no reason to believe that something is wrong with their situation, and are under no epistemic obligation to find out whether they are oppressed and if they should resist their oppression.

However, I also argue that the above is the only case in which someone might be exempt; if the oppressed does have reason to believe that she might be oppressed, the obligation to resist oppression remains in place.

Last modified:30 August 2018 2.21 p.m.