The Use of Narrative in Jewish Medical Ethics

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Anne Jones has pointed out that over the last three decades, stories have been important to medical ethics in at least three ways: (1). Stories as cases for teaching principle-based medical ethics (2). Narratives for moral guides on what is considered living a good life (3). Stories as testimonials written by both patients and physicians. A pioneer in this effort, particularly in regard to using narratives as moral guides, has been the ethicist and philosopher Stanley Hauerwas. Heavily influenced by virtue ethics, Hauerwas believes that it is a person's particular narrative tradition that provides one with convictions that form the basis of one's morality. Befitting a Protestant theologian, he is particularly concerned with the Christian narrative. From a Jewish perspective, there has been much less written on the use of narrative in medical ethics. However, it is a mistake to think that narrative has little, if any, role in Rabbinic ethical decision making. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the centrality of narrative in the thought of Orthodox Jewish decisors and the problems inherent in this methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-973
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • Judaism
  • Medical ethics
  • Narrative
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)
  • Religious studies


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