pp 1–30 | Cite as

Epistemic injustice in mathematics

  • Colin Jakob RittbergEmail author
  • Fenner Stanley Tanswell
  • Jean Paul Van Bendegem
S.I.: MathCogEncul


We investigate how epistemic injustice can manifest itself in mathematical practices. We do this as both a social epistemological and virtue-theoretic investigation of mathematical practices. We delineate the concept both positively—we show that a certain type of folk theorem can be a source of epistemic injustice in mathematics—and negatively by exploring cases where the obstacles to participation in a mathematical practice do not amount to epistemic injustice. Having explored what epistemic injustice in mathematics can amount to, we use the concept to highlight a potential danger of intellectual enculturation.


Epistemic injustice Virtues Philosophy of mathematics Folk theorems Caramello Royen Ramanujan Enculturation 



The authors are indebted to Ladislav Kvasz for a very fruitful discussion about folk theorems. We thank Olivia Caramello for her comments and discussion on the folk theorem section and Katherine Hawley for her helpful comments on Sect. 2. We would also like to thank Andrew Aberdein, Neil Barton, Catarina Dutilh-Novaes, Alessandra Tanesini, Benedikt Löwe, Josh Habgood-Coote, and the audiences at St Andrews, Munich, Hamburg and the CLWF in Brussels for their helpful criticisms on presentations of drafts of this paper. Furthermore, we thank two anonymous referees for their very helpful remarks. Research for this paper by the first author has been funded by the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO), Project G056716N. Research for this paper by the second author was supported by the EPSRC grant for the project ‘The Social Machine of Mathematics’ led by Prof. Ursula Martin [EP/K040251/2].


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Mathematics EducationCentre Loughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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