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Narrative Justice

Narrative Justice

Rafe McGregor


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This book introduces narrative justice, a new theory of aesthetic education – the thesis that the cultivation of aesthetic or artistic sensibility can both improve moral character and achieve political justice. The author argues that there is a subcategory of narrative representations that provide moral knowledge regardless of their categorisation as fiction or non-fiction, and which therefore can be employed as a means of moral improvement. McGregor applies this narrative ethics to the criminology of inhumanity, including both crimes against humanity and terrorism. Expanding on the methodology of narrative criminology, he demonstrates that narrative representations can be employed to evaluate responsibility for inhumanity, to understand the psychology of inhumanity, and to undermine inhumanity – and are thus a means to the end of opposing injustice. He concludes that the cultivation of narrative sensibility is an important tool for both moral improvement and political justice.

In Narrative Justice, McGregor applies meticulous philosophical reasoning to work out how we might reduce criminal inhumanity through narrative. His ideas on the ethical value of narrative representation and the knowledge-generating capacity of ‘exemplary stories’ will be of enduring value to social theory, criminology, and to anyone who hopes to change minds.

Lois Presser, Professor of Sociology, University of Tennessee

Can stories reduce crime? Rafe McGregor believes so, specifically when it comes to ideologically motivated crime, whether perpetrated by state actors or non-state actors. Narrative Justice is a major contribution to narrative criminology with criminological applications and ethical implications that make imperative reading for those tasked with law enforcement and policy making at the highest levels.

Ajit Maan, Founder and CEO, Narrative Strategies LLC

In Narrative Justice Rafe McGregor offers a strikingly original defense of the idea that works of narrative art have a distinctive capacity to cultivate understanding and promote an ethical society. A fascinating feature of this books is its turn to criminology as a fresh site for thinking about art’s ability to develop moral sensibilities and character. Narrative Justice is ultimately a plea for the importance of aesthetic education, an idea championed by Friedrich Schiller in 1794 and here modernized and made responsive to contemporary concerns and problems. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in why healthy societies need good narratives.

John Gibson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Louisville
Rafe McGregor is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Edge Hill University. He specialises in narrative representation, ideologically-motivated crime, and social exclusion. He is the author of The Value of Literature, two novels, and over 250 journal articles, review essays, and short stories. He can be found online at @rafemcgregor.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Half Title i
Title Page iii
Copyright Page iv
Contents v
Acknowledgments xiii
Preface vii
1 Narrative Representation 1
1. Narrative Representation and Non-Narrative Representation 1
2. Values of Narrative 5
3. Aesthetic Education 9
4. Criminal Inhumanity 14
5. Narrative Criminology 20
2 Contemporary Aesthetic Education 29
6. Reading, Detranscendentalisation, and Epistemological Performance 29
7. Literary Imagination, Ethics, and Impossibility 33
8. Narrative Understanding 38
9. Empirical Evidence 43
3 Narrative Ethics 53
10. Ethical Value and Narrativity 53
11. Ethicism 58
12. Closural Moral Order 65
4 Narrative Knowledge 73
13. Knowledge and Narrativity 73
14. Epistemic Criterion 77
15. Narrativity Criterion 84
5 Narrative Justice 89
16. Ethical Knowledge and Narrativity 89
17. Fascist Fictions 93
18. Poetic Justice? 99
19. Narrative Justice 102
6 Narrative Value 109
20. Hyperbolic Ethics and Deconstructive Politics 110
21. Literature, Empathy, and Experimentation 113
22. Conclusion, Coherence, and Correspondence 117
23. Correlation, Causation, and the Law 120
24. Gregory Currie and Martha Nussbaum 124
7 Responsibility for Inhumanity 131
25. Two Wars 131
26. Three Charges 133
27. Defending de Man 135
28. Commending Campbell 138
29. Silence and Deceit 141
30. Silence and Remorselessness 144
8 The Psychology of Inhumanity 151
31. In the Heart of the Country 151
32. The Person of the Torturer 154
33. In the Heart of the Whore 158
34. The Problem That Troubles the Novelist 163
9 Undermining Inhumanity 169
35. Narrative Strategies 169
36. White Genocide 174
37. Crusader 178
38. Reducing Violent Extremism 183
39. Coda: Methodology? 188
Bibliography 197
Index 211
About the Author 217