I argue in this paper that the work of Keith Lehrer, especially in his book Self-Trust has applications to feminist ethics; specifically care ethics, which has become the leading form of normative sentimentalist ethics. I extend Lehrer’s ideas concerning reason and justification of belief beyond what he says by applying the notion of evaluation central to his account of acceptance to the need for evaluation of emotions. The inability to evaluate and attain justification of one’s emotions is an epistemic failure that leads one not to act on one’s own aspirations and desires and treat those desires as if they did not exist. I argue that this is a common condition among women in patriarchal societies because patriarchy can cause women to believe that they are not worthy of their trust concerning what they accept, specifically acceptance of their anger over their own mistreatment. As a result, many women are unable to realize the self-protective role of their anger. All of this reflects a lack of what I shall call epistemic personhood, a concept based on Lehrer’s theory concerning the keystone role of self-trust in the epistemic arch of rationality, justification and knowledge. Lastly, I use this concept of epistemic personhood to develop a care ethical account of self-respect that counters the Kantian account.
Self-trust Epistemic personhood Women’s anger Self-respect Care ethics