Megan Mitchell: "White people, we need to stop being so damn fragile!"

Please join us in welcoming Megan Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Philosophy from Stonehill College for her talk on "White and Male Fragility as Failures of Intellectual Humility". Free and open to the public.

In recent years, ‘white fragility’ has emerged as a concept with potentially broad explanatory power, invoked to illuminate everything from the reactions of white liberal feminists on Twitter to police violence against unarmed black Americans, and (when paired with its companion concept, ‘male fragility,’) the election of Donald Trump. However, the precise nature of white fragility remains somewhat unclear—what is it that all of these instances have in common? How is white fragility distinct from white privilege? And how is it connected to male fragility?

In this talk, Mitchel offers a unifying analysis of white fragility that clarifies its relationship to male fragility. She builds on Robin DiAngelo (2011)’s original articulation of the concept and Whitecomb, et al. (2015)’s work on intellectual humility to argue that both fragilities are dispositions to epistemic arrogance with respect to the domains of racist and sexist oppression. Those with white and male fragility believe that they occupy a privileged epistemic position in these areas because they are white and/or male. In addition to establishing its status as an epistemic vice, I draw on Dotson (2011)’s work on silencing, to show that fragility can be a form of epistemic violence.  


Gail Caldwell Stine Lecture

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy