Paisley Livingston
Lingnan University
The ever-expanding literature on narrative reveals a striking divergence of claims about the epistemic valence of narrative. One such claim is the oftstated idea that narratives or stories generate both “hot” and “cold” epistemic irrationality. A familiar, rival claim is that narrative has an exclusive capacity to embody or convey important types of knowledge. Such contrasting contentions are not typically presented as statements about the accidents or effects of particular narratives; the ambition, rather, has been to identify a strong link between a single, positive or negative epistemic valence and narrativity, or the traits in virtue of which some discourse, utterance, or series of thoughts is aptly classified as a narrative or story. In this essay I contend that arguments in this vein are dubious.Not only are contentions about the specificity of narrative tenuous and controversial, but even if they were not, there are serious problems with the postulated connections between narrativity and the epistemic merits or demerits of narratives. These difficulties are identified in a critical discussion of prominent examples from the literature. My conclusion is not that there is nothing worth saying about relations between narratives and various epistemic desiderata, but that one prevalent theoretical ambition in this area ought to be renounced in favor of more viable avenues of inquiry
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1540-6245.2008.01332.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,973
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Narrative Explanation.J. David Velleman - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):1-25.
Causes and Conditions.J. L. Mackie - 1965 - American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (4):245 - 264.
The Narrative Construction of Reality.Jerome Bruner - 1991 - Critical Inquiry 18 (1):1-21.
Narrative and Coherence.Gregory Currie & Jon Jureidini - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (4):409–427.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Narratives and Action Explanation.Thomas Uebel - 2012 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (1):31-67.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Narrativity and the Symbolic Vacuum.Stefan Lukits - 2011 - Philosophy and Theology 23 (1):167-183.
Blogs and the Narrativity of Experience.José Angel García Landa - 2008 - Information Systems: Behavioral and Social Methods Working Papers Series 2 (6).
Narrativity and Ethical Relativism.Mark Colby - 1995 - European Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):132-156.
Narrativity and Hermeneutics in Applied Ethics.Johan Verstraeten - 1994 - Ethical Perspectives 1 (2):51-56.
Narrativity and Hermeneutics in Professional Ethics.Alain Thomasset - 1996 - Ethical Perspectives 3 (4):168-174.
Heidegger and the Narrativity Debate.Tony Fisher - 2010 - Continental Philosophy Review 43 (2):241-265.


Added to PP index

Total views
45 ( #212,041 of 2,344,137 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #514,058 of 2,344,137 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes