Newsletter Fall 2011 Telling Stories, Revealing Narratives

Telling Stories, Revealing Narratives

This year's Program on Values in Society and the Department of Philosophy's annual Rabinowitz symposium on medical ethics was organized by philosopher Sara Goering (UW) and anthropologist Janelle Taylor (UW). Entitled "Telling Stories, Revealing Narratives: Perspectives in Illness and Care," the symposium focused on issues in narrative ethics and medicine.

Philosopher Hilde Lindemann (Michigan State University) analyzed a variety of uses of stories (e.g., reading, invoking, analyzing, constructing, and contesting them), and explored the role of moral particularism in medicine and medical ethics, as well as its limits. Anthropologist Cheryl Mattingly (University of Southern California) gave the second talk. She focused on her experiences working in an occupational therapy setting with racially diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged families who have a child with a chronic health condition. Her stories of family resistance to medical tropes and of successful encounters by physicians with an ear for personal stories helped to illustrate the potential impact of physician humility and careful attention to patient narratives. The final speaker was physician and author Vincent Lam (University of Toronto). The title of Lam's talk - "Narrative Medicine: Who Needs Stories in an Age of Evidence?" – points to his concerns with how the evidence-based movement is de-emphasizing the importance of patient stories.

Audio-recordings and references related to the topics discussed can be found under "events" at:


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