Steve Urbanski, The Identity Game: Michel Foucault’s Discourse-Mediated Identity as an Effective Tool for Achieving a Narrative-Based Ethic, The Open Ethics Journal, 2011, 5, 3-9
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This article examines in hermeneutic fashion the philosophy of Michel Foucault and isolates an identity matrix that can assist humans in navigating the often numerous and conflicting narratives facing us in the 21st century and empower us to move toward a more narrative-based ethic that is beneficial to multiple stakeholders. Of particular interest is Foucault’s assertion that our identities are not fixed in a traditional sense but mediated by the many rich, dialogical discourses we encounter each day. This identity scheme is suggested in much of Foucault’s philosophy, particularly in Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, and its application to ethics has never been more important. As highly developed countries, particularly the United States, become more egocentric, ethical decision-making too often is defined via an emotivistic framework. Foucault’s thoughts on identity can enlighten us to the power each person has in determining and taking ethical action that can positively inform what this article terms a narrative-based ethic. This portion of the article is informed by philosopher Walter R. Fisher, who sees humans as “storytellers” who view the world based on an awareness of what Fisher terms narrative probability – or what constitutes a coherent story – and their constant habit of testing that story’s narrative fidelity, whether the experience rings true with other stories they know to be true in their lives.
Keywords: Culture, ethics, genealogy, identity, narrative.