In search of the missing subject: narrative identity and posthumous wronging

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):340-346 (2010)
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Abstract

With the advanced methods of analysing old biological material, it is pressing to discuss what should be allowed to be done with human remains, particularly for well documented historical individuals. We argue that Queen Christina of Sweden, who challenged the traditional gender roles, has an interest in maintaining her privacy when there are continued attempts to reveal her ‘true’ gender. In the long-running philosophical debate on posthumous wronging, the fundamental question is: Who is wronged? Our aim is to find this ‘missing subject’ using narrative theory.Narrative identity emphasises the fact that no person is alone in knowing or telling their life story. People’s lives are entangled and parts of the life story of a deceased person can remain in the living realm. Since the narrative identity of a person does not necessarily end upon their death, and this narrative continues to relate directly to the person who once existed, it is the narrative subject that can continue to be posthumously wronged. Queen Christina can no longer maintain her own identity, but we maintain it by our research into her life. We propose three duties relevant for posthumous wronging: the duty of truthfulness, the duty of recognition and the duty to respect privacy

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Mats J. Hansson
Uppsala Universitet

References found in this work

Oneself as Another.Paul Ricoeur - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.
Concealment and Exposure.Thomas Nagel - 1998 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1):3-30.
Time and Narrative.Terri Graves Taylor - 1985 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 18 (3):180-183.
The Misfortunes of the Dead.George Pitcher - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (2):183 - 188.

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