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In search of the missing subject: narrative identity and posthumous wronging
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics.
2010 (English)In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, ISSN 1369-8486, E-ISSN 1879-2499, Vol. 41, no 4, 340-346 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With the advanced methods of analysing old biological material, it is pressing to discuss what should be allowed to be done with human remains, particularly for well documented historical individuals. We argue that Queen Christina of Sweden, who challenged the traditional gender roles, has an interest in maintaining her privacy when there are continued attempts to reveal her ‘true’ gender. In the long-running philosophical debate on posthumous wronging, the fundamental question is: Who is wronged? Our aim is to find this ‘missing subject’ using narrative theory.

Narrative identity emphasises the fact that no person is alone in knowing or telling their life story. People’s lives are entangled and parts of the life story of a deceased person can remain in the living realm. Since the narrative identity of a person does not necessarily end upon their death, and this narrative continues to relate directly to the person who once existed, it is the narrative subject that can continue to be posthumously wronged. Queen Christina can no longer maintain her own identity, but we maintain it by our research into her life. We propose three duties relevant for posthumous wronging: the duty of truthfulness, the duty of recognition and the duty to respect privacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 41, no 4, 340-346 p.
Keyword [en]
narrative theory, personal identity, posthumous identity, posthumous rights, historical person, privacy
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Bioethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-122505DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.10.010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-122505DiVA: diva2:310370
Projects
Duties to Past Persons
Available from: 2010-04-13 Created: 2010-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Duties to Past Persons: Moral Standing and Posthumous Interests of Old Human Remains
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Duties to Past Persons: Moral Standing and Posthumous Interests of Old Human Remains
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Genetic research has increasing power to analyse old biological remains. Biological traces of well-known historical persons can reveal personal information. The aim of this thesis is to investigate ethical concerns for the dead, within the biological, historical and archaeological sciences.

In philosophy there is a long-running discussion on whether or not the dead can be wronged. The good name is proposed as a candidate of a posthumous interest. It is first of all argued that slandering per se can be wrong regardless of posthumous wronging of the dead. Secondly, the concept of change is investigated. It is argued that the property of having a reputation is a relational property. Hence a change in public opinion of a dead person, is also a change in the dead person’s reputation.

The third contribution of this thesis is a constructive proposal for how a posthumous identity could be understood using narrative theory. Understanding identity through the life-story opens up the possibility of a gradual loss of identity after death, rather than absolute loss at the moment of death. Fragments of a person‘s narrative identity can persist in other peoples’ narratives, and for some historical persons, their narratives can be found long after their death.

Finally, the implications of a remaining narrative identity for the dead are investigated in the area of archaeology and museumology. In the past 30 years, there has been increasing critique about present and past discriminatory handling of old human remains by archaeologists, in museums and in other institutions. Increasing numbers of requests have been made for repatriation or reburial of old human remains. Following an analysis of three current ethical guidelines in handling old human remains, changes to these guidelines are proposed based on a narrative method to a hypothetical claim of reburial.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 76 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 557
Keyword
posthumous interests, moral standing, missing subject, archaeology, human remains, rights, dead, interests
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Bioethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-122508 (URN)978-91-554-7798-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-29, Auditoriet Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-05-06 Created: 2010-04-13 Last updated: 2010-05-18Bibliographically approved

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Masterton, MalinHansson, Mats G.Höglund, Anna T.

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