Article ID: CBB867181599

What are narratives good for? (2016)


Narratives may be easy to come by, but not everything is worth narrating. What merits a narrative? Here, I follow the lead of narratologists and literary theorists, and focus on one particular proposal concerning the elements of a story that make it narrative-worthy. These elements correspond to features of the natural world addressed by the historical sciences, where narratives figure so prominently. What matters is contingency. Narratives are especially good for representing contingency and accounting for contingent outcomes. This will be squared with a common view that narratives leave no room for chance. On the contrary, I will argue, tracing one path through a maze of alternative possibilities, and alluding to those possibilities along the way, is what a narrative does particularly well.

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Authors & Contributors
Jullien, Dominique
Nesci, Catherine
Lee, Maurice S.
Engberg-Pedersen, Anders
Burkett, Andrew
Pfau, Thomas
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Journal of Early Modern History
Studi dellaportiani
Oxford University Press
Duke University
University of California, Santa Barbara
Stanford University Press
Harvard University
University of Chicago Press
Contingency (philosophy)
Historical method
Science and literature
History of science, as a discipline
Sterne, Lawrence
Darwin, Charles Robert
Pascal, Blaise
Rabelais, François
Franklin, Rosalind
Crick, Francis
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, late
Early modern
21st century
18th century
16th century
Great Britain
United States

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