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26 Novembre 2014 | Ethics Between Argumentation and Narration

  • Odilon Redon. Beatrice


The conference aims to explore and analyse some aspects of the relevance that narratives today are commonly held to have for moral thought and deliberation, both in the context of individual and in the context of public ethics.



Olivia Guaraldo, Università di Verona 

Walter Lesch, Université Catholique de Louvain

François Ost, Université Saint-Louis, Bruxelles and Université de Genève



Arguably, narratives are relevant to moral reflection, reasoning, and discourse on at least two counts. On the one hand, they can provide argumentative debates with important materials on which to work in view both of the solution of moral problems and of the production and justification of norms and values. On the other hand, they can enable individuals and groups to appropriate moral norms and values, allowing those norms/values to be inscribed and interpreted in personal and collective stories. In both cases, narratives would appear to have the potential to figure as a means for overcoming the impersonal and abstract character of processes of norm/value production, legitimization and assimilation. In fact, these processes are never presuppositionless. They start out from collective histories (as in the case of norm production and justification) or from personal stories (as in the case of norm/value assimilation). Narratives seem to offer hermeneutic access to the repertoire of shared interpretations and values which moral deliberation and debate presuppose as a basis for communication.


Public ethics is concerned with the justification of moral norms in pluralistic public spheres which, with regard to many moral problems, no longer rely on a prior consensus as to what is right or wrong. Its preferred instrument is the production of arguments that have the power to justify moral norms and values in an intersubjectively acceptable manner. In this context, narratives would seem to be able to serve as stores of interpreted experiences (personal, social, cultural, etc.) upon which public argumentative debates can draw. This feature of narratives is evident, for instance, in the context of biomedical ethics, where consideration of personal experiences is of utmost importance. An interesting example of the role that narratives can play in the appropriation and assimilation of moral norms/values by individuals, on the other hand, is the exercise of criminal law, which precisely aims at bringing about a personal assimilation of general civil-law norms (in as far as they express moral norms). This function has traditionally been entrusted to punishment. But for quite some time now there are participants to the debate who argue for the need to let an exclusively punitive structure evolve toward a system that, through narratives, recognizes a more pronounced weight to the lived experiences of the protagonists of violations of legal norms (be they perpetrators or victims). Arguably, such an inclusion of the existential dimension of lived experiences by way of narration would be more efficient than a mere punitive regime in enabling individuals to assimilate legal norms

Event date: 
Wednesday, 26 November, 2014 (All day)

Aula piccola


The Narrative Turn in Ethics and the Ethical Turn in Narratology. Potentials, Ambiguities and Limits

Walter Lesch, Université Catholique de Louvain

 Storytelling, Politics and Ethics: A Gendered Perspective

 Olivia Guaraldo, Università di Verona

Le rôle du récit dans la création et la réception des normes juridiques

François Ost, 

Language: English and French


Scientific Coordination FBK-ISR: Stefano Biancu, Lucia Galvagni, Boris Rähme

Fondazione Bruno Kessler Aula Piccola | Via Santa Croce 77 | 38122 Trento
FBK-Centro per le scienze religiose