Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics

By Rita Charon; Martha Montello | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 19

NARRATIVE ETHICS, GENE STORIES, AND THE HERMENEUTICS OF CONSENT FORMS

LARRY R.CHURCHILL

Over the past two decades, the role and status of literary concepts and perspectives in bioethics has flourished and blossomed. In 1980, a few bioethicists were using literature as an interesting way to supplement standard ethical analysis in teaching health science students. But only a fraction of this minority were engaged in a methodological rethinking of the field of bioethics in the light of literature’s contributions to understanding the dynamics of human moral experience. Today no one can ignore the importance of literary skills for bioethics or the challenge literary scholars make to philosophy’s historical claim to hegemony over ethics more generally. Narrative ethics I understand as a term intended in part to capture the contributions that literary methods and perspectives can make—not just to the task of teaching bioethics—but to the tools practitioners bring to the discipline itself.

These contributions have been presented most powerfully and convincingly in three areas: (1) studies devoted to probing the thickness and illuminating the nuance of patients’ lives, as represented in their illness narratives; (2) inquiries into medical practice, primarily focused on the relationships between health care professionals and their patients or their patients’ families—for example, the way in which patient “histories” and ethics “cases” have been enriched and altered by using literary tools; and, most recently, (3) reflexive looks at bioethics itself in the efforts to interpret its role, status, and meaning as a professional and human enterprise. The essays in this volume are testimony to the vitality of literary ways of thinking and knowing in these three areas.

One of the striking things about this list is its focus on patients and patient care activities. Yet most bioethicists and medical humanities scholars also spend a great deal of their professional lives worrying about human subjects and medical research; for example, serving on institutional review boards (IRBs) and data safety monitoring boards (DSMBs), teaching about research ethics and scientific integrity, or collaborating with clinical investigators. Over the last decade, a substantial percentage of this time has been spent on genetics research. Yet little has been written about how narrative ethics might contribute to our understanding of

-183-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 244

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?