Speaking, Listening, and Communicative Justice: Educating Epistemic Trust and Responsibility
Cusick, Carolyn Marie
I demonstrate how listening functions in deliberative endeavors. Because speaking does not much matter if no one is listening, I argue that democratic participation can be undermined by those who simply refuse to listen to some speakers or who willfully misunderstand some speakers’ contributions. I rebalance the responsibilities of communicators by defending an account of epistemic interdependence where both speakers and listeners have duties to each other, focusing on the duties that listeners have to being open-minded, empathetic, and reflexively critically aware. Because acknowledging listener responsibility does only so much to actually improve listening, I propose a transformation of formal educational programs into models of inclusive democratic communities. Poor listening leads to invidiously oppressive epistemic injustices, not because we do not teach listening skills, but because we are mis-educating students into prejudiced trust and credibility assessments. I argue that we can transform communities by transforming schools, and we must transform schools because we are committed to valuing and listening to all community members.