Exemplars, Ethics, and Illness Narratives

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (4):323-334 (2017)
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Abstract

Many people report that reading first-person narratives of the experience of illness can be morally instructive or educative. But although they are ubiquitous and typically sincere, the precise nature of such educative experiences is puzzling—for those narratives typically lack the features that modern philosophers regard as constitutive of moral reason. I argue that such puzzlement should disappear, and the morally educative power of illness narratives explained, if one distinguishes two different styles of moral reason: an inferentialist style that generates the puzzlement and an alternative exemplarist style that offers a compelling explanation of the morally educative power of pathographic literature

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Ian James Kidd
Nottingham University

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