The Power of Stories: Responsibility for the Use of Autobiographical Stories in Mental Health Debates

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Lisa Bortolotti
Anneli Jefferson


 Autobiographical stories do not merely offer insights into someone’s experience but can constitute evidence or even serve as self-standing arguments for a given viewpoint in the context of public debates. Such stories are likely to exercise considerable influence on debate participants’ views and behaviour due to their being more vivid, engaging, and accessible than other forms of evidence or argument. In this paper we are interested in whether there are epistemic and moral duties associated with the use of autobiographical stories in mental health debates. We argue that debate participants have a responsibility to assess a story as evidence or as an argument when the story is put forward to support a given viewpoint. We also make some preliminary suggestions about what can be done to ensure that the use of stories contributes to the variety of the resources available to debate participants without compromising the quality of the argumentation or increasing polarisation. 


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How to Cite
Bortolotti, Lisa, and Anneli Jefferson. 2019. “The Power of Stories: Responsibility for the Use of Autobiographical Stories in Mental Health Debates”. Diametros 16 (60):18-33.
Author Biographies

Lisa Bortolotti, University of Birmingham

Professor of Philosophy in the Philosophy Department and in the Institute for Mental Health.

Anneli Jefferson, University of Birmingham

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Philosophy.

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