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Narrative and knowledge development in medical ethics.
  1. P Tovey
  1. University of Leeds.


    The role of individual life accounts has been promoted--largely through what has come to be described as narrative ethics-as important to the practice of medical ethics for a number of years. Beyond this the apparent incompatibility of personal stories with scientific procedure has limited their use. In this article I will argue that this represents a serious under-utilisation of a valuable method for researching ethical dilemmas and the settings in which these dilemmas are played out. Life stories need not simply provide a stimulus to scientific research but can in themselves yield intellectually robust evidence on the general as well as the particular. By drawing on the rigorous methods developed elsewhere, personal accounts not only allow us to "enter the world of the sick person" but allow us to do so in such a way as to contribute to empirical and theoretical knowledge.

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