On Being Misled by Non-Fiction

Wednesday, 13 October 2021, 16:00-18:00

Senate House, Room G35


It is generally thought that the view, propounded by Hayden White and characteristic of the postmodern fringe, that all narratives (whether non-fiction or fiction) are epistemologically on a par because they are all in some way the product of the imagination has been successfully rebutted by Noël Carroll and others. Although this paper will not attempt to resuscitate the strong version of that claim, it will argue that there are various boringly standard constitutive features of narrative that make canonical non-fictional narratives more epistemologically suspect than is generally thought. If this is right, it would not only cast suspicion on the reliability of non-fictional narratives as a source of belief, but also throw a shadow over some other enquiries, such as work on testimony and narrative therapy.


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