Systematic epistemic rights violations in the media: A Brexit case study

Lani Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘Euro judges “open floodgates to illegals”’ (The Sun, 8 June 2016), ‘Fury over plot to let 1.5M Turks enter Britain’ (Daily Mail, 13 June 2016), ‘European criminals free to live in Britain’ (Daily Telegraph, 7 June 2016). These headlines all appeared in the weeks immediately prior to the UK referendum on EU membership, held on 23 June 2016. They present a stark and unified message regarding the nature, scale and impact of EU immigration in the UK It is hard to deny that a correlation exists between public concern with EU immigration at this time and media attention on the topic. That the media actively shaped the beliefs of its audience, regarding EU immigration, and that it did so through the propagation of misinformation and in the biasing and concealment of accurate information is also, I argue, overwhelmingly plausible. As such, the media handling of information concerning EU immigration during pre-Brexit campaigning provides a compelling illustration of the systematic violation of epistemic rights. In this paper, I outline the nature of epistemic rights and epistemic rights violations and demonstrate the widespread perpetration of such violations in pre-Brexit media coverage. This provides a case study for the investigation of epistemic rights violations across national and international media; a topic of central concern for contemporary epistemology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-102
JournalSocial Epistemology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018


  • epistemic rights
  • rights
  • social epistemology
  • political epistemology
  • media epistemology
  • epistemic injustice
  • Brexit


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