SAAP Discussion Paper Submission


Testimony, Advocacy, and Error:

Lorraine Code's Ecological Thinking and Josiah Royce's Loyalty to Truth


Abstract: Lorraine Code's model of epistemic responsibility gives one of the best accounts of knowledge as uniquely situated within ecological, social, and gendered communities. However, while her conception allows for an account of sexual assault testimonials in terms of both subjective experience as well as an overarching system of patriarchy and violence, Code's account seems to allow little room for understanding how to balance both the accounts of the victim and perpetrator. Code's account could be enriched by joining it with the work of Josiah Royce. Royce's account of epistemic communities, and his conception of error as always necessary within truths, moves Code's own account into a solid commitment to not only the subjective experience of a victim, but also to a communal commitment to pluralism when developing knowledges.   


            Perhaps one of the most important and troubling ideas in contemporary epistemology is the relationship between truth and personal testimony. While many feminist scholars have called for the inclusion of personal testimony into ideas of truth and knowledge, it remains an under appreciated and maligned approach to “truth finding” in legal, scientific and medical fields. Lorraine Code points to this in her book Ecological Thinking: “Feminist and other post-colonial theorists of knowledge, ever cognizant of the social-environmental hierarchies of power and privilege whose effects are to valorize some people's experiential claims—their testimony—and to denigrate others', have to contend with persistent, vexed questions about how experience can stand as evidence and about whose experiences count and why, on an epistemic terrain where credibility is unevenly distributed and testimony often discounted or denigrated on the basis of whose it is.”[1] In this regard, the way testimony is treated in particular instances becomes a complex and gendered issue that points to the core of what ought to count as a feminist understanding of the politics of knowledge.

            As Code states, the uneven reception of testimony, as well as the desire to move towards supposedly “expert testimony” in many social structures, is not only an issue of women as being seen as less truthful inherently but also a result of large and prevalent misunderstandings about knowledge itself. Throughout her work, Code offers one of the most important accounts of how morality and epistemology are intertwined. Her most recent work, Ecological Thinking, expands the notion of what constitutes a situation to include not only abstract social forces and placements but also inter-active habitats within a natural environment, social norms, and established political institutions. 

            Ecological Thinking provides an account of how morality, advocacy, care, and a respect for empiricism are all necessary for responsible knowing. By focusing on examples of environmental protection, medical ethics and research methods, legal testimonies and judgments, and gendered media representations of trust and knowledge, Code asks for responsible intertwined knowing, advocacy, and action. However, even in this most recent book, Code’s theory is far from unproblematic. While her model of ecological thinking provides a basis for encouraging better knowing, there is little, if anything, in this work that helps us distinguish between conflicting knowledge claims.

            In order to overcome this lack of a comparative standard, Code's needs to account for the possibility of error and, in relation to this, a means of judging knowledge  claims against one another. This standard can be provided, I will argue, by Josiah Royce's account of error and his later focus on knowledge and salvation through community loyalty. In particular, Royce's model of truth as the ongoing unity of ideas and its later development, salvation as a community of all individuals, provide adequate tools for pushing Code's model towards a more effective epistemological theory and political force.

            While Code calls for the inclusion of women's testimonies, as well as other Others, as  necessary for attaining responsible knowledge, her work itself provides little to no means of judging between testimonies when they are in conflict. This issue is perhaps most present with regards to personal testimonies in rape cases. While Code calls for respecting women's experience and emotional accounts, as well as working against the patriarchal leanings of current western legal systems, she fails to provide a convincing account of how to deal with both the testimony of the supposed victim and the supposed perpetrator. This issue becomes even more complex if we think of examples where both the victim and perpetrator are in situations of oppression within the legal system, for example male defendants that are of the lowest economic classes, men of oppressed races and ethnicities, and cases where both claimants are of the same sex. The combination of the work of Royce and Code's model of ecological thinking leads to two conclusions. First, getting closer to the truth requires a pluralism of knowledge and therefore, a responsibility to hear multiple testimonies. Second, the commitment to loyalty and community as a means of truth and salvation provides a way of enforcing Code's own call for advocacy in legal settings by providing the goal of loyalty toward loyalty as a positive and essential part of knowing.

The Unique Nature of Testimony

            Throughout Ecological Thinking, Code points to personal testimonies as necessary sources of knowledge and also important means of counteracting harmful dichotomies in post-enlightenment epistemology. She offers examples of personal testimony in the work of the famous, and in many circles infamous, environmental scientist, Rachel Carson, and the work of employee advocate, Karen Messing. Code points to the work of Carson as an important counter example to what she sees as the most harmful aspects of common scientific practices. She views Carson as a kind of quintessential ecological thinker, because she gathers her knowledge not only from empirical observations but also from a situational understanding of motivations, patterns and potential impacts. According to Code, Carson's knowledge claims are the result of experienced patterns and influences within a given ecological habitat. This approach, for Carson, becomes significant because, as a scientist, her work destabilizes the conception that true knowledge needs to be purified by isolating entities in laboratory settings.

            A large part of both Carson's fame and infamy comes from her reliance on testimonials as a source of scientific knowledge. Citing Carson's most famous work, Silent Spring, Code claims that Carson blurs the traditional lines between advocate and scientist by both starting with personal testimonials about the dangerous health concerns of insecticide use and relying on accounts of patterns within ecological environments themselves, rather than controlled laboratory settings. While both of these methods might be unique, it is Carson's focus on testimonials that has contributed the most to the criticism that she is more of an advocate than a trustworthy, value-neutral scientist. However, as Code notes, “Testimony becomes both evidence and a catalyst for ongoing investigation: she [Carson] affirms its contestability and its interpretability, while advocating its value.”[2] While the contestability and interpretability of testimonials has been seen as supposedly “non-scientific” in the case of Carson's work, Code claims that Carson's difficulties are part of a larger disregard for testimony itself. Code states, “Historically, incredulity in the face of testimony is scarcely surprising, given a long lineage of distrust in the putative chaos, naivety, and unsubstantiated muddle of every day experiences.” Code cites the social hierarchies within Plato's work as an important starting place for this distrust of testimony. In this historical instance, she claims testimony is linked to especially people whose economic class, nationality and gender puts them at “the bottom rung” of these hierarchies This social element to testimony she claims remains maligned within the realm of science:

            But the problem, as feminists and other Others have amply shown, is the presumed        contrast, no longer, perhaps, to the highest level of knowledge achieved in contemplating the Forms, but to Scienticity, allegedly cleansed of distortions, subjective elements, and vested             interests: a contrast that feminists and others unmaskers of the situatedness and background      assumptions of scientific inquiry, and of its complicity with larger social-political-economic          agendas, have shown to be bogus.[3]

Feminists have used testimony as one of the only tools available to them, because of the still dominant colonialist and patriarchal structures within fields that are seen as providing neutral scientific knowledge. Within this structure the trope of neutrality serves as a justification for setting aside feelings and those views taken to be influenced by feelings. Testimony has been used in many areas not only to provide an empirical account of which events took place and the possible causal links between them but also to begin evaluating the emotional account of those events, a means of promoting the significance of events that may not be measurable within a laboratory setting.

            In the work of Carson, testimonials provide both accounts of what appears to be going on in situations and how this affects the quality of life among those most greatly involved. Code furthers this discussion by considering the work of Karen Messing. Messing's work focuses on the testimonials of female workers suffering under-diagnosed and under-compensated, work-related diseases and injuries. In these cases, it is the gender of those making the testimony, not just the nature of testimonials themselves, that hinders their supposed believability. In Messing's work, this means that while work related injuries are cited as twelve times greater in men than women, this is not because men experience more injuries, but rather because personal reports of injuries are more often disregarded when they are presented by women. This, Code later claims, stems from the patriarchal stereotype of women as hysterical and lazy.[4]

Code's Conception of Ecological Thinking

            Later in Ecological Thinking, Code claims that the disregard for testimonials in the scientific, legal, and medical fields is based on a larger, misguided commitment to a notion of individual autonomy that lies at the heart of the philosophical underpinnings of political liberalism within the western politics of knowledge: “the image of the self-reliant knower directly confronting the world continues to play a regulative part in mainstream epistemology such that if it could not be held intact, the basic tenets of the system would no longer hold.”[5] While testimony is at once seen as untrustworthy because it is often uncorroborated, it is also distrusted because testimonials are most often presented within larger communities with shared loyalties and understandings. For example, both Carson's and Messing's work is seen as untrustworthy because they are both working as advocates for those whose testimonials they are relying upon. However, rather than being an isolated bit of knowledge that one person was able to discover through her autonomous rationality, testimonial knowledge claims are the result of a communal context of interpretation and  are understood through advocates and fellow testifiers. Testimony itself, Code claims, works outside of the ideal of an autonomous, isolated reasoner. In its presentation, interpretation, and accessibility, testimony is always reliant on others: “testimony challenges this [cognitive autonomy] imaginary, for it functions as a constant reminder of how minuscule a proportion of anyone's knowledge, with the possible exception of occurrent sensory input, is or could be acquired independently, without reliance on others.”[6]  Although it is often discredited in legal proceedings (with the exception of “expert testimony”), Code goes on to claim that most people rely on testimony as a source of every day knowledge.

            By claiming that testimony is an important source of knowledge, Code is working not only to validate the experiences and knowledge of Others but also to destabilize the commonly received epistemology of isolated individualism as well as the imaginary ideal of a “pure” knowing that can be separated from moral and political aims. Code sets up this larger focus in her earlier book, Epistemic Responsibility. She claims that traditional epistemology focuses on a conception of the known through an atomistic individual who knows best when she is separated from an external world and her community as much as possible. However, she contrasts this approach with traditional moral theories, which she claims seem to always work on the premise that humans are social beings. According to these accounts, interweaving the knowledge of one subjective self with others dilutes that knowledge, especially when a fixed truth that can be understood through a pure reason is called for. In contrast to these accounts, Code claims that knowledge itself is created through communities, or as she puts it, “Human beings are cognitively interdependent in a fundamental sense, and knowledge is, essentially, a commonable  commodity.”[7] Human beings are incapable of ever attaining knowledge by themselves, and responsible knowers develop knowledge more fully by situating their own knowledge in their communal settings and interpreting others' knowledge in relation to their communities. Hence, central to this account of knowledge is the idea that communities have to work through bonds of trust to establish knowledge.

             Code states that her use of the term “ecological thinking” highlights that she wants to situate her new account of knowledge in both habitat and ethos, that is, in order to know responsibly, we need to take into account the state of the current environment socially, communally, politically, sexually and ecologically, even as the process relies on acquiring certain epistemic virtues. In this manner, Code's account of ecological thinking draws on some of the major themes of feminist standpoint theorists, such as Sandra Harding,[8] including the idea that knowing is always a matter of being situated within a certain placement and that the situation affects not only what you know but also how well you know something. Yet, Code's account here goes beyond this. She specifically uses the term “ecological” to draw attention to natural environmental settings and to highlight a necessity in understanding patterns and long-term effects. The first chapter of Ecological Thinking opens with the claim that her theory is based on a working definition of ecology that entails understanding through patterns, situations, and advocacy: “Broadly speaking, it is a study of habitats both physical and social where people endeavor to live well together; of ways of knowing that foster or thwart such living; and thus the ethos and habits enacted in knowledge and actions, customs, social structures, and creative-regulative principles by which people strive or fail to achieve this multiply realizable end.”[9]  It is not just that knowing requires an understanding of a situation; the project of knowing also involves active work to change social imaginaries that prevent communities from living well and prevent situational accounts of knowing.

             Ecological thinking “reconfigures relationships all the way down” to relationships of politics, epistemology, science, and ethics as well as humans' relationships to the environment. In this manner, ecological thinking  is an expansion of Code's commitments in her earlier work. Ecological thinking radicalizes epistemology as a whole to include a focus on situations and a move away from established and restrictive dichotomies. To know, in Code's epistemic sense, means not only taking into account the different assumptions and power structures within a situation but also exposing and rejecting those structures and assumptions. Code frames this project in reference to what she calls social imaginaries. Drawing on Michel Foucault and Gilles Deluze, Code claims that ecological thinking involves a conscious and reflective approach to understanding cultural assumptions and their influence on knowledge claims, or, in her terms, social imaginaries, that work to both construct and complicate norms of what it means to adequately know something: “Thus contesting, infiltrating this entrenched imaginary is a reflexive process of requiring it to submit its assumptions of universal rightness to scrutiny, its residual totalizing unity-of-science assumptions, and its governing beliefs about the nature of nature, knowledge and knowledgeable subjectivity.”[10] She sees her own project as unique because her understanding of Cornelius Castoriadis's “Ecology” essay focuses on “Its gaps, its motility open[ing] up spaces for the work of institution imaginary.” Furthermore, she claims that her (as well as Castoridis's) account of ecology provides “a cluster of subversive and productive practices, metaphors, images—capable, with persistent effort, of shaking epistemology free from the monocultural/monological hold of the imaginary that has kept standard theories of knowledge isolated from the very knowledge they have sought to explicate.”[11] This overall focus on moving to reconstruct social imaginaries frees her term “ecology” from its association with the natural environmental and ties it to social, cultural, and legal work as well.       

            Reconfiguring large social imaginaries requires starting at the local level of embedded situations, “I am proposing that ecological thinking can reconfigure epistemology, piece by piece in detailed local inquiries whose effects often have global resonances.”[12]  Carson's work with specific communities affected by insecticides, Messing’s commitments to the individual health concerns and situations of the workers she studied, as well as advocacy groups’ work with particular rape victims are all heralded by Code as promoting this kind of local-to-global change.


Complications of Code's Account

            Among the particular social imaginaries that Code works to disassemble in her work are the idea of an autonomous knower, as previously mentioned, and the idea that knowledge itself can be boiled down to a realist accounts of neutral universal facts. Code claims that common post-enlightenment epistemology is overly focused on knowledge as what she calls “the 'S-knows-that-p' rubric.” This approach she claims presents at least three troubling ideas:

            first, that all simple, atomistic, observationally verifiable propositional knowledge claims are equally innocent, and the circumstances of their utterance are equivalently irrelevant          to their evaluation; second, that the more elaborated knowledge claims are mere       multiples of       such simple claims, with the same apolitical status; and, third,  that the subjectivities of             knowledge claimants are as epistemologically inconsequential  elsewhere as they are imagined    in such stripped-down events as knowing the cup is on the table or the cat is on the mat.[13]

Focus on supposedly neutral accounts has lead to the ideas that “facts” are universal, attainable by reason and isolated, empirical observation, and that they can be contaminated with too much influence by motives or emotions, while also supposedly separated from larger social patterns of privilege and oppression. Code rejects the “neutral facts” model by claiming that knowledge is understood through patterns, communities provide ties of claims and ideas, and  understanding starts on local levels that move towards reconstructing larger social understandings.

            These rejections of epistemological realism led Code to claim in an earlier book, Rhetorical Spaces, that in order to adopt an uniquely feminist project that rejects this enlightenment model means to adopt the specific language of relativism. She claims, “A straightforward acknowledgment of the relativist implications of feminist revisionary epistemologies would be liberating in that it might force a reassessment of the stark conception of relativism.”[14] This move away from realism and irreverence in the face of stigmas against relativism at once offers Code's account the kind of freedom that is necessary in establishing knowledges away from constructed ideals of neutral facts, but it can become a hindrance for placing her theory into action in specific contexts.

            This stringent rejection of realism, in itself, might not lead to a crushing blow to Code's work, but, in Ecological Thinking, it leads to one particularly harmful complication. Throughout the book, Code upholds the importance of testimony. In the beginning chapter this example is used to underscore the importance of taking local situations into account when conducting inquiry. In the later chapters, the conditions of testimony itself are outlined more clearly. In neither section, however, does Code give an account of how to distinguish between conflicting testimony. This is due, in large part, to her inability to give a full account of how testimonies themselves could ever be in error.

            Code never accounts for what happens when multiple and conflicting testimonies are working against historical-material contingencies, when multiple accounts of a shared event are in different ways vulnerable to institutions at large. In her first account of testimonials, she claims that Carson's use of them is helped by her willingness to also look at empirical and traditional scientific accounts. Of Carson, she claims, “Although she takes such [personal] reports very seriously and, as I have noted, apolitically, this is no naïve 'experientialism' for which experience is inviolate, unchangeable.”[15] Later in her chapter “Patterns of Autonomy, Acknowledgment, and Advocacy,” Code claims that testimony, especially in the legal format, requires that those who face the harsh side of institutionalized sexism, heterosexism, or racism need to have their accounts advocated for by a third party in order to counteract the institutional forces that work against the believability of their account. Furthermore, for Others to begin to trust their own accounts, they require the advocacy of community members: “Feminists are well aware that within the insider/outsider structures that frame the politics of public knowledge and the prestige of scientific knowledge, ‘ordinary’ women's voices—like those of other disenfranchised knowers—often go unheard and fail to achieve autonomous acknowledgment. Their reports of violence, sexual assault, domestic abuse, racism and sexism in the work place and in the world are often discredited.”[16] Women who have suffered sexual assault, in particular, Code claims, are working against a system of patriarchy that uses realist language of “the facts” in such a way that it prevents their testimony from being accepted as a believable account of the pain and harm of the event. Drawing on Haraway, Code claims that the challenge in legal settings, as well as responsible epistemology in general, “is to produce 'faithful accounts of the real world' by working through genealogical, power-, and situation-sensitive inquiry to destabilize the imaginaries that confer a critical immunity upon statements of fact whose historical-material contingency attests to their verifiability to critique.”[17]

            Cases of sexual assault are prime examples of this. By Code's account, we are required to advocate for women whose emotional distress instituted distrust in their own accounts and patriarchal courts stand in the way of providing a believable account of “the facts of the matter.” But what if her testimony conflicts with a supposed perpetrators whose race or economic class bars him in a similar fashion from being seen as believable due to the particular historical-material contingencies of racism and classism within the justice system? Within this situation, Code gives us little to explain how we can use both testimonies to reach a “faithful account of the real world.”[18]

Rethinking Code's Account of Testimony Through Royce's Conception of Error

            Alone, the work of Josiah Royce does not provide us with many of the crucial insights that Code's Ecological Thinking provides. The value of Code’s work is not only that it provides another account in the tradition of situated knowledge but also that it wraps the concept of situated knowledge into a full on call to local advocacy and global changes. However, Code's claim that testimony is an essential part of localized knowing as well as her claim that testimony breaks down the harmful isolated and autonomous knower ideology would be improved with a full account of the possibility of error in testimony. A perhaps surprising, but nonetheless effective source, for this account can be found in various works of early twentieth-century American philosopher Josiah Royce. While Code successfully outlines how testimony could be effective, Royce's account of error as well as his connected idea of communities of interpretation could more effectively move this idea into a consistently workable practice.

            Royce's conception of error adds a means of evaluating conflicting testimonials. His account provides a strong need for pluralism, while also underscoring Code's larger commitments to the “endeavor to live well together.”[19] He discusses the possibility of error in several places in his work; however, one of the clearest accounts of his position comes from his book The Religious Aspect of Philosophy. In a chapter entitled “The Possibility of Error,” Royce claims that the possibility for either truthfulness or error only arises through the addition of a third party into a situation of judgment. The individual alone in her own thoughts is unable to attain any kind of judgment: “The substance of our whole reasoning about the nature of error amounted to the result that in and of itself alone, no single judgment is or can be an error. Only as actually included in a higher thought, that gives to the first its completed object and compares it therewith,  is the first thought an error. It remains otherwise a mere mental fragment, a torso, a piece of drift-wood, neither true nor false, objectless, no complete act of thought at all.”[20] Royce explains that, in order to error at all, the object in question has to be one with which we are already familiar. For example, if I were to make to make a judgment by saying that the surface of Xanadu is purple, it could contain neither truth nor error. I have no knowledge of Xanadu, no way of ever confirming or denying that idea, nor do I even have external ideas that would lead me to believe that it exists. It is at this point a piece of drift-wood. Without anything to compare it to, without any previous thoughts and no accounts of future ones, this isolated thought of an unknown planet is, at best, just a mental musing.

            Royce uses an example of two people knowing each other to illustrate his concept . By first claiming “mere disagreement of a thought with any random object does not make the thought erroneous. The judgment must disagree with its chosen object,”[21] Royce explains that if two people are placed in a room together and asked to make judgments about each other on no other basis than their individual experience at that moment, then they will never be able to make either a truthful or erroneous account of one another. This is because when the first person—in Royce's account, “John”—makes a judgment about the second person, “Thomas,” he is not making an assessment of truthfulness or error in regards to the real Thomas, but rather in light of his own immediate idea of Thomas. In this case, John singly expresses the idea he has of Thomas relative to that very idea.  It cannot be in error since it is only a report of what John already believes.  For John to be in error about Thomas, there needs to be a third perspective, a spectator who can compare John’s claims to Thomas, not just to John’s idea of Thomas. 

            In relation to testimonials, Royce's John and Thomas example can easily be applied to a legal setting. In order to have either truth or error in testimonials, a third party must be able to make some kind of comparative judgment. In Code's example, this could mean advocates, judges, or an epistemic community. So the possibility of error is not found within the testimonial itself but rather in the judgments implied in the testimony and the judgments of others. If we use the example of a rape case, this means that the emotional trauma of the testifier is, under this conception, never even considered a means of truth or error. A person is driven to share that account and that emotional trauma; however, it has to join with other ideas in order to make a larger judgment of truth and error, it can never be called erroneous in itself. Also, Royce's account of truth and error is significant for Code because it shows the necessity of multiple observers in the interpretation process. Here, Royce, like Code, claims that an autonomous, individualized model of uninterpreted truth is, at best, a myth. With this account of error, it is not just that advocates can improve the believability of a testimony but also that third party interpretations of judgments are essential for them to participate in truth or error.

            This focus on a third party in relation to error works underlies Royce's larger idea of what it means to attain truth. In The World and The Individual, Royce claims that ideas themselves are working to further their own determination, which, for Royce, is completely fulfilled through a final connection to an all-encompassing Absolute. This means, first, that the absolute or infinite truth of any idea is for practical purposes not determined by specific judgments. In order to be absolutely true, an idea would have to fulfill its purpose by joining the Absolute, and so each idea all ideas in the world would fulfill their purposes concurrently.

            This idea of the Absolute at once frees Royce from any requirement to find a static and complete truth, and, more importantly, it provides a mechanism for judging some ideas more true than others. He states, “An error is an error about a specific object, only in case the purpose imperfectly defined by the vague idea the instant when the error is made, is better defined, is, in fact, better fulfilled, by an object whose determinate character in some wise, although never absolutely, opposes the fragmentary efforts first made to define them.”[22] Ideas are more truthful, under this account, the more that they push towards connection. What this means in more practical terms is that judgments are more truthful the less they are removed from other ideas. In this sense, Royce is offering something that Code seems to want but cannot adequately call for. In the example of the rape case, the ghost of really being able to determine a fixed absolute true judgment has been lost, but truer judgments are those that take as many accounts as possible into consideration. In order to provide the truest judgment we can, it is crucial that the accuser's testimony be presented through understandings of the situational and larger patriarchal forces that are at work in society, as well as a rich account of her emotions. However, Royce calls for us to take defendant's situation within social structures into account as well as the accuser's.

            However, this still does not fully develop an account that would satisfy Code's needs. Even if there were a stronger model in which a pluralism of knowledges leads to more truthful legal judgments, it would not, in itself, help us utilize these testimonies to change existing harmful structures. The question remains, if women's testimonies are already less believable (as previously noted), then could the fight to be so careful to include other accounts actually fight patriarchy? This is a legitimate concern, but one that a combination of both Code and Royce's accounts are able to address.

            While the The Religious Aspect of Philosophy and The World and the Individual focus on individuation as error, this idea goes farther, claiming that it is not just ideas that join into an Absolute; people also seek a united end, and the individuation of people is also dangerous. In The Problem of Christianity, Royce leaves behind the language of the Absolute, focusing instead on a concept of the Beloved Community. In this conception, individuals join in communities and the communities themselves move towards the larger goal of a community of all communities, the Beloved Community.  Through this final community, individuals and individual communities attain salvation. In this work, error transforms into sin, and sin is the individuation that prevents the final end of Beloved Community. In relation to Code's account, Royce himself not only constructs a human relation to salvation but also acknowledges knowledge, memory and morality as an effort of many together. Hence, in his account, attaining any of these goals as an atomistic individual is impossible.

            While in relation to the overarching example of the rape case, this means that, in the same way that judgments are more truthful when they seek multiple accounts, the idea of the community in Royce also upholds Code's claim that these localized events, such as one individual rape case, can have a large global resonance and should take those global implications seriously. Moreover, being able to move communities toward the Beloved Community involves what Royce calls loyalty to loyalty. For Royce, this means that, while we have several loyalties in life, individuals and communities ought to be loyal to causes that move towards the well-lived lives and flourishing of all others, “And so, a cause is good, not only for me, but for mankind, in so far as it is essentially a loyalty to loyalty, that is, is an aid and a furtherance of loyalty in my fellows.”[23]  If the court is loyal to loyalty, then it is required to act not as atomistic neutral determiners of the truth, but rather as a force for fighting the oppressions of patriarchy within their system and globally. This means that advocacy of testimonies might not treat accuser and defendant testimony in the same way. Instead, courts must work within a frame of how to reach the best truth. In the instance of two competing accounts in a rape case, in order to establish the best truth, the judging parties must remain loyal to the community as a whole by striving to unravel the social and institutional forces that encourage them to dismiss testimonials from disadvantaged groups. Yet, Royce does not provide us with the detailed accounts of harmful social institutions, such as patriarchy and colonialism, that Code does. However, when we look at patriarchy as brutalizing many and hindering all, then it requires that legal systems, as well as all institutions, hold this fundamental loyalty to loyalty as a basic tenet. Doing so takes these factors into account and holds the community responsible for doing so in practice.





[1]    Lorraine Code, Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006,) 51.

[2]    Ibid., 57.

[3]    Ibid., 57.

[4]    Ibid., 53-55.

[5]    Ibid., 173

[6]    Ibid., 172-173.

[7]                  Ibid., 167.

[8]    See Sandra Harding, Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms Feminisms, and Epistemologies, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998).

[9]    Ibid., 25.

[10]  Ibid., 30.

[11]  Ibid., 33.

[12]  Ibid., 97.

[13]  Ibid., 98.

[14]  Code, Rhetorical Spaces,  (New York: Routledge, 1995,) 186.

[15]  Ecological Thinking ,57.

[16]  Ibid., 196

[17]  Ibid., 112.

[18]  Another important criticism of Code is the claim that she is unable to give an adequate account of knowing another's claim because of her relativist leanings. See: Susan Feldman, “Second-Person Scepticism,”in The Philosophical Quarterly, (vol. 4 no. 186, 1997) 81.

[19]  Code, Ecological Thinking, 25.

[20]  Josiah Royce, The Religious Aspect of Philosophy, (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1958) 431.

[21]  Ibid., 409.

[22]  Josiah Royce, The World and the Individual, (Dover Publications, Inc.: New York, 1959,) 335.

[23]            Josiah Royce, The Philosophy of Loyalty, in The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, vol. 2, ed. John J. McDermott, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969,) 901.