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Monday, August 25, 2014

The Rationality and Morality of Telling Stories in Bioethics

By Barry Hoffmaster
Hastings Center Report
Volume 44, Issue 3, pages 4–6, May-June 2014

The recent special report Narrative Ethics: The Role of Stories in Bioethics shows how narrative ethics can enlarge and enrich bioethics. Christine Mitchell, author of one of the essays in the collection, rightly attributes the popularity of narrative ethics to “the aridness of philosophical ethical theory.” Telling stories liberates morality from the constricted, philosophically grounded applied ethics that has dominated bioethics. Ethical theory is abstruse and indeterminate, and neither quality is tolerable when the people are real, the moral stakes are high, and the decision cannot be deferred. As with any emancipation, enthusiasm for narrative ethics abounds, but for its promise to be realized, the moral workings of stories need to be understood.

The entire article is here, behind a paywall.