This article was originally published as:
Morton, L. (2016). Rereading code: Representation, verification, and a case of epistemic (ir)responsibility. Literary Journalism Studies, 8(1), 34-51. Retrieved from http://ialjs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/article2_morton.pdf
In 2001 James Aucoin published an article that contributed significantly to the scholarship of ethics and epistemology of literary journalism studies. Drawing on the work of Lorraine Code, Aucoin combined a “responsibilist” approach to epistemology with narrative theory to establish standards for judging literary journalism’s truth claims. This paper offers a re-reading of Code’s seminal text, Epistemic Responsibility, arguing that Code’s approach in fact upholds verifiability as a key criterion for epistemic responsibility in works of both fiction and nonfiction. Such a reading produces significantly different results when analyzing literary journalism’s truth claims. It is the aim of this paper to follow through the implications of rereading Epistemic Responsibility as advocating the discipline of verification. John D’Agata’s and Jim Fingal’s The Lifespan of a Fact is used as a case study to play out some of these implications in the second half of this paper. This playful case of epistemic irresponsibility highlights some of the key issues around truth claims in literary journalism. It is argued that such cases have an important role in keeping the issue of “knowing well” central to the epistemic community, thereby contributing to the flourishing discussion around the responsible representation of reality.
Morton, Lindsay, "Rereading Code: Representation, Verification, and a Case of Epistemic (Ir)responsibility" (2016). Arts Papers and Journal Articles. 51.