Narrative Ethics


Narrative ethics is one approach to medical ethics of the clinical encounter. Narrative ethics is the form of medical ethics that accounts for personal identity experienced as life‐narrative. It expands the scope of ‘beneficence’ as it is usually manifest by the professional in the clinical encounter. It is a tool in the phenomenological analysis of illness experiences with the potential for influencing professional practice.

Keywords: ethics; narrative; medical genetics; medical ethics


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Further Reading

Brock (1995) For references to a wide variety of other applications of narrative to the medical encounter and the patient's illness narrative.

Bruner J (1986) Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Charon R (1994) Narrative contributions to medical ethics: recognition, formulation, interpretation, and validation in the practice of the ethicist. In: DuBose ER, Hamel R and O'Connell LJ (eds.) A Matter of Principles? Ferment in U.S. Bioethics, pp. 260–283. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International. Review of narrative ethics.

Kemp P (1999) From ethics to bioethics. In: Kearney R and Dooley M (eds.) Questioning Ethics: Contemporary Debates in Philosophy, pp. 283–293. New York, NY: Routledge. Offers a concise treatment of the foundations of ‘bioethics’ and its relationship to the ethics of the medical encounter, which has been the subject here.

Mattingly C and Garro LC (eds.) (2000) Narrative and the Cultural Construction of Illness and Healing. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. An excellent compilation of articles, which span the contemporary applications of narrative in anthropology and medicine.

Reismann CK (1993) Narrative Analysis. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. For information on narrative as a method for conducting qualitative health research.

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Brock, Stephen C(Sep 2006) Narrative Ethics. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005885]