Recommended Podcast Episode: Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò on Deference Epistemology and Standpoint Epistemology

Podcasts are an excellent educational resource for debaters. I will occasionally recommend specific episodes that debaters might find particularly helpful.

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is a philosophy professor at Georgetown. He recently wrote two provocative articles about the concept of deference epistemology and its relationship to standpoint epistemology: “Identity Politics and Elite Capture” (in the Boston Review) and “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” (in The Philosopher). Both have significant potential applications to popular debate arguments; Jenny Zhang explicitly made that connection in a Gawker article. Táíwò is also working on a book-length version of these articles; its title is Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) and it will be published by Haymarket Books in mid-2022.

Cards from Táíwò’s articles are already being cited in debates, and I expect that they will become increasingly popular going forward. To help students understand how to defend and answer Táíwò’s arguments, I recommend two podcast episodes: “Identity, Power, and Speech with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò” from The Dig and “Constructing New Rooms with Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò” from The End of Sport.

The former episode is a long, in-depth conversation about Táíwò’s articles. Daniel Denvir is a talented interviewer, and his questions give Táíwò an opportunity to unpack, explain, and expand his position. Listening to this conversation will help students better understand the concepts and arguments in Táíwò’s work.

In the latter episode, hosts Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Johanna Mellis, and Derek Silva ask Táíwò to apply his arguments to sports. The conversation begins with a basic introduction to the idea of racial capitalism and then moves to a discussion of elite capture and how it plays out inside and outside of sports, including in last year’s WNBA and NBA player protests and in Colin Kaepernick’s exclusion from the NFL. Then, Táíwò offers a succinct explanation of what he means by the concept of deference epistemology, how it differs from standpoint epistemology, and how it might be applied to college football during the pandemic. Sports fans will find this episode particularly helpful for understanding Táíwò’s arguments, but I think it will be helpful even for students who aren’t familiar with the specific details of the sports examples.