On the Epistemology of Narrative Research in Education


  • Galit Caduri

Correspondence: Galit Caduri, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, PO Box 5336, Karkur 37504, Israel.

Email: galit.caduri@gmail.com


The purpose of this article is to explore the epistemological foundations of narrative research in education. In particular, I seek to explain how one can obtain knowledge, given its origin in teachers' subjective experiences. The problem with rhetorical and aesthetic criteria that narrative researchers use to warrant their knowledge claims is not that they don't meet a correspondence criterion of truth as post-positivists contend, but rather that they fail to connect teachers' ethical views with their practice. Since narrative research is aimed at understanding teachers' actions and not at seeking some kind of mechanism in teachers' behaviour, the link between past experiences and present teaching practice is not causal but teleological.

I suggest that although the knowledge claims of narrative researchers may not be justified (because they don't meet the criteria of truth as correspondence theory), we might nonetheless be intellectually entitled to accept them. Entitlement is an epistemic right or warrant that constitutes knowledge as justification, but uses different reasons—teleological not causal explanations. I offer three criteria to establish entitlement to accept narrative researchers' findings: (1) the meeting of rhetorical standards such as plausibility, adequacy, and persuasion; (2) the inclusion of teachers' stories about their pedagogical practice; (3) the meeting of ethical criteria that connects a teacher's actions to an articulate and defensible end-in-view or vision of the good.