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Morality and Narrative vs. Principles

It should be obvious that the use of narrative as a response to moral criticism is absurd. If slavery is wrong, it doesn’t matter how heart-wrenching and hip NPR’s series on The True Experience of Slave-owners is. If euthanasia is a Bad Thing rather than a Good Thing, no photo-journalism campaign telling the Real Stories of Elderly Citizens Deciding to Die With Dignity changes the fact. If I hold that an action is evil, all a narrative of some person doing that action proves is that, yowzers, there are real-life people to apply my moral belief to.


Beneath the veneer of “respect for real people” a cold depreciation of humanity lies smirking: one that considers the human person as concretized, fixed, incapable of conversion and unable to freely leap from her narrative in the light of some newly grasped ideal. Under all our talk of “giving a human face to the controversy” is a denial of what makes the face truly human — its capacity to freely turn from falsehood towards truth, from evil towards the good. A moral view of humanity that values narrative over principle inevitably considers humans as creatures incapable of principles.


No description of a life could ever say a word about whether one ought to live out the decisions and beliefs of that life.

—from the blog post The Difference Between a Narrative and an Argument by Marc Barnes who blogs at Bad Catholic


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