Argument from Personal Narrative: A Case Study of Rachel Moran's Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution

Res Philosophica 93 (3):601-620 (2016)
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Personal narratives can let us in on aspects of reality which we have not experienced for ourselves, and are thus important sources for philosophical reflection. Yet a venerable tradition in mainstream philosophy has little room for arguments which rely on personal narrative, on the grounds that narratives are particular and testimonial, whereas philosophical arguments should be systematic and transparent. I argue that narrative arguments are an important form of philosophical argument. Their testimonial aspects witness to novel facets of reality, but their argumentative aspects help us to understand those facets for ourselves. My argument takes the form of a case study of the exemplary narrative argument penned by Rachel Moran, a former prostitute who uses her experiences to argue that prostitution amounts to sexual abuse. We’ll see that narrative arguments can enjoy expository Advantages over analytic ones.

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Katherine Dormandy
University of Innsbruck


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