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C H A P T E R 8 Narrative Authority Anthony F. Lang Jr. HOW CAN CITIZENS OF democratic states engage in moral deliberation about war? Public discourses about war in democratic states tend toward the nationalistic or even jingoistic. This tendency is exacerbated in such states by the assumption that democracies only use force for good purposes and never resort to war for selfinterested reasons. That is, any judgments about war tend to be ones that reinforce the right and good of war-making by democracies rather than critical moral debate about just or unjust wars. This chapter proposes one way to make possible a more critical moral debate. I begin with the assumption that the just war tradition is the best means by which to deliberate about war in democratic states. But if it is to be used by a wider civil society and not just by philosophers, it needs to be recast in terms of narrative rather than rules. This alternative conception of the tradition retains its conceptual categories but employs them as a structure whereby a narrative about war can be structured and then judged. Furthermore, to ensure that narratives about war do not become nationalistic histories that celebrate every military action undertaken by democracies, and to ensure that there is a wider deliberation about war than just among elite political and military leaders, I propose that such deliberations take place in religious institutions. Using the analogy of a pastoral encounter, I suggest that these institutions provide the space where narratives about war can be constructed through a process of active listening by clerics or lay leaders who can guide citizens through a critical dialogue about war that draws on the just war categories as framing devices rather than as applied rules. The bulk of the chapter focuses on why narrative rather than rules is the preferred way to employ the just war tradition. It does so by exploring the use of 135 136 Anthony F. Lang Jr. narrative in history, moral philosophy, and political theory. The just war tradition tends to be understood through a rule-based framework, one that begins with a set of principles from which are generated a series of rules governing the proper conduct of warfare. Although such a method provides rigor and logical coherence to moral inquiry, such inquiry does not always find purchase in wider debates about war. Rather than logical analyses of right and wrong, everyday citizens tell stories about war. Instead of these rule-based styles of reasoning, I suggest in this chapter that a narrative approach makes the just war tradition more accessible to civil society. In any society or polity, stories about its past and present uses of force appear in multiple guises—as popular histories, in the news media, as fiction, as entertainment , and in public education. These narratives will conflict and contest each other, but over time polities develop stories of their role in the world that are often related to stories of how they use military force. This largely narrative account of war and its justification is thus one that already exists in society, and so it is one into which citizens can be invited to participate in a more active way. But one of the dangers of narratives of war is that they can easily become nationalistic or jingoistic accounts of a nation’s wars. How, then, is it possible to both deploy the narrative mode and also provide some discipline in making judgments about war? Put differently, and more in line with the focus on authority in this volume, how can narratives about just war be constructed that have some authority for the political community in which they take place? I suggest that one way to avoid nationalist accounts of war is to turn toward institutions in civil society as formal structures within which narratives of war can be best articulated. I point to how religious institutions can serve this function, especially if they employ a pastoral model in how war is discussed, debated, and eventually narrated. The first section of the chapter fleshes out the concept of narrative through an engagement with history, social science, moral philosophy, and political theory. Throughout, I connect these different conceptions of narrative with the just war tradition. The next section points to how a narrative approach might be utilized in a pastoral context to make judgments about war. Concretely, it proposes the use of religious institutions as a place where such...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781589016811
Related ISBN
9781589019966
MARC Record
OCLC
856929711
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2013-11-28
Language
English
Open Access
No
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