Author: Max Diamond

Identitarianism and the Splintering of Democracy

You can know X if, and only if, you are of part identity group Y. This is the theory of what I will call ‘Identitarian Epistemology.’ While generally not articulated in abstract form, this doctrine has managed to infect our political culture. It is the major philosophical justification for dismissing anyone’s argument, question, or thought, based on nothing more than his or her identity group. One identity group, so the theory goes, cannot acquire the unique knowledge of another. Identitarian Epistemology is based upon the following premises: Being part of identity group Y necessarily involves certain experiences which are unique to that group. These experiences are a necessary condition for acquiring certain kinds of knowledge. And therefore: People not of identity group Y cannot know certain things, which only identity group Y can know. Being “part of identity group Y” here means being accurately described with a certain identity predicate: “black,” “female,” “gay,” et cetera. There are an infinite number of such predicates because there are an infinite number of ways to qualitatively describe an …