Karyn L. Freedman | College of Arts

Karyn L. Freedman

Associate Professor, Philosophy
Phone number: 
519.824.4120 x.53232
354 MacKinnon


B.A., University of Manitoba
M.A., University of Manitoba
Ph.D., University of Toronto

My main philosophical interests are feminist and epistemological. I currently have a few research projects on the go. In one, I am exploring the conditions of justified belief and the nature of epistemic responsibility. Following in the tradition of feminist epistemology, I am developing a theory of justification that is accountable to our everyday epistemic practices. What I have come up with so far is an interest-relative theory of justification, which is a kind of modified evidentialism in which the normative status of a belief is determined by two factors: the evidence in favor of the belief in proportion to the epistemic risk one takes in believing.

In another project I take up some of the issues that I raise in my book, One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery (University of Chicago Press, 2014). In this book I tell the story of my personal experience of rape and recovery, interweaving autobiographical facts with philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological reflections to draw out the book’s central themes of trauma and gender inequality. One of the issues that I discuss in the book is the problem of recalcitrant emotions: fear in the acknowledged absence of danger. I have been exploring the epistemology of recalcitrant emotions in a couple of new papers, drawing out some connections between recalcitrant emotions and epistemic akrasia.

In a related vein, and drawing on neuroscientific models of trauma, I have developed an account of the wrong of rape which is grounded in the central harm of rape, what I call 'threat-circuitry harm'. This is the harm that results from the experience of a grave and unexpected threat to one's life and bodily autonomy. I have elaborated this harm in a paper that refutes Gardner and Shute's (2000) well-known account of a harmless rape, which, I argue, relies on an outdated notion of trauma.

In another related project, I have been exploring the issue of violence against women against the backdrop of male privilege viewed as a kind of motivated ignorance. For this work I am drawing on Miranda Fricker's epistemic injustice as well as Charles Mills’ work on white ignorance.

2024. Knowing Better: Motivated Ignorance and Willful Ignorance, Forthcoming in Hypatia.

2023. Bodies Under Threat: Trauma and Motivated Ignorance, APA Studies on Feminism and Philosophy, Vol. 23, 14-22.

2021. Rethinking the Wrong of Rape, Philosophical Issues, Vol. 31, 1-24.

2020. The Epistemic Significance of #MeToo, Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, vol 6.2., Article 2.

2017. Akratic Believing, Psychological Trauma, and Somatic Representations, Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, Vol. 24, 337-346.

2017. Akratic Feelings, Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, Vol. 24, 355-357.

2017. Quasi-evidentialism: Interests, Justification and Epistemic Virtue, Episteme, Vol. 14, 147-160.

2015. Group Accountability Versus Justified Belief: A Reply to Kukla, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, Vol. 4, 6-12.

2015. Testimony and Epistemic Risk: The Dependence Account,Social Epistemology, Vol. 29, 251-269.

2014. One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery (University of Chicago Press).

2013. Interests, Disagreement, and Epistemic Risk, Dialogue, Vol. 52, 587-604.

2010. The Limits of Internalism: A Case Study, Dialogue, Vol. 49,  73-89.

2009. Diversity and the Fate of Objectivity, Social Epistemology, Vol. 23, 45-56.

2007.  Traumatic Blocking and Brandom’s Oversight, Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, Vol. 14, 1-13.

2007.  Knowledge Without Citable Reasons, Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, Vol. 14, 25-28.

2006. Normative Naturalism and Epistemic Relativism, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 20, 309-322.

2006. Disquotationalism, Truth and Justification: The Pragmatist’s Wrong Turn, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 36, 371-386.

2006. The Epistemological Significance of Psychic Trauma, Hypatia, Vol. 21, 104-125

2005. Naturalized epistemology, or what the Strong Programme can’t explain, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 36, 135-148.

1999. Laudan’s Naturalistic Axiology, Philosophy of Science, Supplement to Vol. 66, 526-537.


Public Philosophy

May, 2018. "#Activism" University of Manitoba Alumni Magazine, UM Today: The Magazine

May, 2017. "There is no liberal right to sex with students," Times Higher Education (with Maya J. Goldenberg, Karen Houle, Monique Deveaux, and Patricia Sheridan).

December, 2016. "The Implicit Misogyny of Joseph Boyden's Open Letter," Huffington Post.

November, 2016. "Justice for Rape Survivors," This Magazine.

November, 2014. "For Sexual Assault Survivors, Healing Begins with Talking," Toronto Star.