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Peer-Reviewed Article

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An increasingly blurred understanding of the moral significance of narrative identity for a robust perception of self, other, and community suggests a critical need to explore the inter-relationships shared between autobiographical memory, emotional rationality, and narrative identity, particularly as it bears on decision making. This essay argues that (i) the disintegration of autobiographical memory degenerates emotional rationality; (ii) the degeneration of emotional rationality decays narrative identity; and (iii) the decay of narrative identity disables one to seek, identify, and act on the good. After demonstrating that narrative identity is best understood as the product of autobiographical memory and emotional rationality, which in turn is indispensable to substantive ethical decision making, the essay concludes by suggesting that narrative identity may be successfully employed as a justificatory framework for ethical decision making, providing both education to, and rigor for, substantive moral judgments


Dr. Peter DePergola is Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School, Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities at the College of Our Lady of the Elms, and Director of Clinical Ethics at Baystate Health. He holds secondary appointments at Tufts University School of Medicine, Sacred Heart University, and the American Academy of Neurology.

Open access journal.