Erzählungen als Handlungsbeschreibungen. Narrative Erklärungen politischer Ordnungen am Beispiel der Vertragstheorie

Malte Dreyer


This article discusses narrative explanations in philosophy, and turns on the central thesis that narrative explanation in philosophy works primarily by describing human action. The question of how description of this kind succeeds leads us to that of how discrete elements can be integrated to form an understandable and convincing whole story. In accordance with my main thesis, I draw on the theory of narrative research as well as on the theory of action. The latter points to three ways of describing human action: causal, teleological and holistic descriptions. From this typology I deduce a list of narrative explanations and suggest some reasons for why we should prefer the holistic approach. In the final paragraph I illustrate my argument with the example of social contract theory, which shows how the different types of narrative explanation work.