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Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2013

On the Epistemology of Narrative Research in Education


GALIT CADURI
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 dont 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 justied (because they dont 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 justication, but uses different reasons teleological not causal explanations. I offer three criteria to establish entitlement to accept narrative researchers ndings: (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 teachers actions to an articulate and defensible end-in-view or vision of the good.

I INTRODUCTION

In the past decades narrative research has become an important resource for personal, professional and academic knowledge in many disciplines, including education. Among the many uses of this methodology, one especially inuential view holds that it is possible to learn about how teachers understand their professional practice by studying their life histories (Connelly and Clandinin, 1999; Elbaz-Luwisch, 2007; Olson and Craig,
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2001). This raises a number of interesting perplexities about the epistemological status of the ndings of this approach to narrative research in education. Is it reasonable, for example, to assume that teachers recollections about the past are sufciently reliable to justify believing them, given that they are often tainted by subjective feelings? But if we are not justied in believing their personal memories, might there be other criteria that would entitle us intellectually to assent to them despite their questionable epistemological status? Finally, what is the connection between life histories and the practice of teaching, and might we be better prepared to explain what entitles us to believe teachers life stories even when those beliefs are not fully justied if we had a compelling account of this connection? The question at hand is not of proving or refuting a claim, but rather of explaining how one idea can exist given counter views. The way to resolve this tensionwhat Robert Nozick (1981) calls philosophical explanationsis to examine these views within different and new conceptual frameworks; that is, to examine them dialectically. By confronting different arguments, comparing counter perspectives and contrasting various ideas, one can show how we can believe two ideas that are in tension with one another. In our case, the reliability of narrative knowledge, on the one hand, versus its origin in subjective experience on the other. This question presupposes that the act of telling does not grant epistemic status to teachers life stories. Thus, the purpose of this article is to consider the conditions under which it is reasonable to accept the testimony of teachers about their life histories as evidence for the sort of practical knowledge that informs their teaching. I shall argue that there is a fundamental problem within narrative research that hinders us from accepting its ndings. Because of conceptual ambiguity narrative researchers fail to make a connection between personal and practical knowledge, i.e. between the teachers life story and his teaching practice. The upshot of this ambiguity is a lack of rigorous and coherent connection between the teachers ethical views and his practice that vitiates the narrative researchers conclusions. Following Tyler Burge (1993), I suggest that although the knowledge claims of narrative researchers may not be fully justied, we might nonetheless be intellectually entitled to accept them. Entitlement is a line of defence for beliefs and behaviours that is epistemologically different from justication, for it is grounded in different reasons. Whereas justication is based on causal explanations, i.e. the common epistemic standard of justied, true (in the sense of correspondence theory) belief, entitlement is based on teleological explanations, which are interpretive in nature. They do not require a correspondence conception of truth. I propose three criteria to warrant our entitlement to knowledge claims in narrative research of the relevant sort. These conditions are interpretive, practical and ethical. The article is divided into ve parts. Following this introduction, Part II explores the philosophical tools I employ in order to form a philosophical explanation to the knowledge problem. Part III considers some of the criteria used to justify this sort of narrative research. Part IV examines the problems with these justications by analysing two examples of narrative
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studies and reviewing critiques offered by Denis Phillips and Gary Fenstermacher. The nal part is a response to these critiques based on Tyler Burges distinction between justication and entitlement. In this section I suggest three criteria that might entitle us to accept the testimony found in narrative research as a basis for understanding teacher practice based on Hanan Alexanders (2003, 2006, 2010) transcendental interpretation of pragmatism.

II PHILOSOPHY AS METHODOLOGY: ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND DIALECTICAL ANALYSIS

In order to explain how it is possible to gain knowledge, given its origin in the teachers subjective experiences, one should study the claims and counterclaims that underlie the philosophical tension. In our case, this means studying narrative researchers claims alongside critique aimed at the way narrative researchers justify their knowledge claims. A possible way to do so is rooted in analytic philosophy, which provides two important tools for inquiry: logical analysis and conceptual analysis. The purpose of logical analysis is to examine the logical validity of the arguments; in other words, whether the conclusion follows from the premises. Following this sort of analysis, I ask narrative researchers questions such as: How did you arrive at these conclusions? What sort of evidence do you provide to establish warranted claims? Does this evidence make sense? and Do your conclusions follow logically in some reasonable sense from this evidence? Conceptual analysis aims to clarify key concepts used by narrative researchers in order to explore the epistemological foundations of this methodology. Here I ask: What do you mean when you use such terms as knowledge, practice, truth and justication ? The task of explaining how knowledge is possible within narrative research cannot be exhausted by conceptual and logical analysis since these methods are aimed at proving or refuting philosophical arguments such as p is true. (For example, a philosopher might use logical analysis to form an argument such as the conclusions do not follow from the premises, therefore they are not valid or use conceptual analysis to assert: the concept of practical knowledge as used in narrative research has two meanings.) Showing us that p is true is not what we need in order to explain how p is possible given counter views, for we already believe this (Nozick, 1981, p. 10). What is needed is the sort of dialectical analysis sometimes found, for example, among epistemologists of testimony, philosophers of science, hermeneutic and pragmatic philosophers. In this sort of analysis I confront different arguments, compare counter stances and contrast various ideas in order to understand how it might be possible to rationally believe one thing given certain conicting or contrasting attitudes that also seem reasonable. Relocating the central views in different contexts enables me to expand the scope of explanations I wish to offer, and to form not only a plausible explanation but also an interesting one.
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III TEACHERS PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE AND THE JUSTIFICATION OF NARRATIVE RESEARCH

The discussion in this article refers to the line of inquiry associated with Connelly and Clandinin (1999; Clandinin and Connelly, 1995; Xu and Connelly, 2009) and Elbaz-Luwisch (2007; Elbaz, 1983, 1991) which maintains that a story is a portal through which a person enters the world and by which his experience of the world is interpreted and made personally meaningful (Clandinin and Rosiek, 2007). The story is the very stuff of teaching, contends Elbaz (1991, p. 3), the landscape within which we live as teachers and researchers, and within which the work of teachers can be seen as making sense. Hence, it is possible to learn about teachers personal practical knowledge (i.e. what teachers know through their teaching experience) by studying their life histories. It is important to note that the purpose of narrative research is not to convey the teachers recollection of the past as it really happened, but to understand why teachers act in a certain way. This kind of understanding entails engaging teachers justications of their actions as expressed in their life stories rather than trying to depict events precisely as they occurred. The attempt to understand teacher education using narrative representation developed out of a wider qualitative critique of the positivistic approach to research in education (Alexander 2003, 2006, 2010). This approach uses standards based upon a positivist interpretation of natural science for establishing warranted knowledge (Fenstermacher, 1994). Narrative researchers claim that quantitative research within this positivist paradigm creates knowledge-for-teaching which is theoretical and abstract, rather than teacher knowledge, which ignores the fact that teachers know a great deal about their work. (Xu and Connelly, 2009). This critique has a number of important epistemological implications. First, as opposed to positivist educational research that focuses on the teaching process and its outcomes in order to obtain knowledge, the focus of narrative research is on the teachers themselves. This position is based on belief in teachers as knowers. Teachers know themselves, their educational situations, curriculum, students, and culture (Connelly and Clandinin, 1999; Xu and Connelly, 2009). Second, a teachers knowledge is practical rather then propositional (Elbaz, 1983; Butt et al., 1992). But what does the concept practical knowledge mean? Aristotle (1994) was the rst to distinguish between two sorts of knowledge: one theoretical (Sophia), within which we describe the world and understand it; the other practical (Phronesis), which entails the virtues one has to possess in order to achieve eudemonia, that is, wellbeing. Hence, practical wisdom is the knowledge or understanding that enables its possessor to do the right thing on the right time. Viewed in this light, practical knowledge can never be divorced from values, for the practically wise agent is always in a moral position when he acts. It is important to note that Aristotle is not suggesting an ethic of actions, but an ethic of virtues (arte). The rst is a theory of rules (for example, the Ten Commandments) that focuses on what we ought and ought not to do. At the heart of this view are worthwhile deeds, whereas
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the just man is simply the one that does them. The second perspective focuses on the agent and the virtues he needs to acquire in order to act justly. According to Aristotle, we have to identify the just man rst (for example, a man who is generous, honest and temperate) and then determine what would count as just behaviour. However, it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts, the temperate man; without doing these, no one would have even a prospect of becoming good (Dunne, 1993, p. 290). One can immediately recognise the circularity in Aristotles practical wisdom, for in order to do the right thing one needs to understand what right means. But only a wise agent who has the apt virtues can grasp the meaning of the concept right. It seems that in order to be phronetic one needs to possess certain virtues and in order to obtain those virtues, one must act phronetically. Still, what is important in Aristotles epistemology of practice is the way he ties ethic to practice. Narrative researchers endorse this concept of practical knowledge. They characterise the content of teachers practical knowledge as follows. First, teachers practical knowledge is personal (Elbaz, 1983). Coping with the lively business of the classroom entails conicts and dilemmas that teachers resolve within personal principles, mental images, past experiences, beliefs and personal understanding of the practical circumstances (Carter, 1993; Clandinin and Connelly, 1995). Elbaz (1991, p. 15) points out that teachers necessarily speak from a moral standpoint. Thus, the knowledge that teachers use in their work is not simply technical, but involves personal matters that people carry in their minds and bodies whenever they act. Personal knowledge also includes knowledge that we accumulate within interpersonal relationships (Schefer, 1965). Teachers know many people: students, colleagues, parents and principals. In sum, teachers personal knowledge encompasses their knowledge about themselves and others. Second, teachers practical knowledge is very often tacit. Narrative researchers accept Polanyis (1958) view that for the most part knowledge of a craft is not articulated. In the same manner, though teachers may not be able to say what they know, they feelemotionally, morally and aestheticallytheir knowledge (Xu and Connelly, 2009, p. 223). Third, since practical knowledge relates to certain circumstances, this type of knowledge is contextual. Teachers decide how to deal with dilemmas in a particular lesson according to the surroundings: instructional strategies, pedagogic choices, student evaluations and even the way a classroom is arranged are all actions that change by virtue of inuences from within the environment (Carter, 1993). Clandinin and Connelly (1995) have termed teacher knowledge professional knowledge landscapes to emphasise the social dimension and the inuence of specic environments and contexts on the work of teachers. An important aspect of teachers practical knowledge is the way teachers obtain their knowledge. The epistemology of narrative research derived from Deweys (1910) ontology and epistemology, both of which are grounded in the concept of experience. Dewey claims that the dual epistemology that Rationalism and Empiricism created has led philosophical
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thinking to a dead end. The dichotomy between the view that we learn about the world through our minds and the view that we do so through our senses, contends Dewey, is false. There are no facts that present themselves independently; rather these facts depend on specic kinds of practice for their existence as an object of knowledge. Dewey formed a different ontology in which experiences are the entities that exist in the world. These experiences are derived from the dialectic relationship between the subject and his or her social and natural surroundings. We experience the world as a whole and develop our knowledge through experience (Dewey, 1938). Schn (1983) called this knowledge-in-action. Similarly, teachers obtain practical knowledge by everyday actions in different environments and through a variety of pedagogical experiences (Elbaz-Luwisch, 2007). Teachers constantly shape and elaborate their knowledge by means of new experiences and reection on previous actions. Narrative researchers hold their inquiries to be epistemically worthy, thus they use rhetorical and aesthetic criteria in order to warrant their knowledge claims. Rhetorical standards, such as plausibility (Polkinghorne, 2007) or likelihood of persuasion (Levering, 2007) aim to convince us that the interpretations narrative researchers suggest are reasonable. The reason that aesthetic criterions such as verisimilitude, enjoyment (Freeman, 2007), attractiveness (Barone, 1992), the extent to which a description is animating (van Manen 1990), and the degree to which a narrative is well formed (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990) have epistemic value relates to the purpose of this type of methodology. If we wish to learn from stories about teachers experiences, contend narrative researchers, then only good storiesstories that have aesthetic qualitywill enable us to do so.

IV WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WAY NARRATIVE RESEARCHERS WARRANT THEIR KNOWLEDGE CLAIMS?

Analysing the criteria that narrative researchers use to warrant their knowledge claims raises a fundamental problem within this tradition. As mentioned, narrative researchers believe that it is possible to learn about teachers professional knowledge by studying their life story. In other words, narrative researchers in Connelly and Clandinins tradition wish to draw a logical connection between personal and practical knowledge. The problem is that the fail to do so, for they do not use criteria to justify the teachers deeds, but rather they focus on justifying their interpretation of the teachers story. In the following section I examine two examples of narrative studies that illustrate my argument. Consider Black and Halliwells (2000) study Accessing Practical Knowledge: How? Why? which employs alternative forms of representation such as drawing, metaphor, journals and story writing to generate new insights into Sandys (a preschool teacher) practical knowledge. At rst they dene practical knowledge as knowledge that is assembled in forms that make it possible to manage teaching practicalities (p. 104). This denition includes all types of knowledge: propositional, practical and
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personal, since it implies that everything that teachers know which help them at work counts as practical knowledge. Next, they present a dilemma Sandy has faced in her work with a child named Nicholas (p. 107): He (Nicholas) had been running, screaming, basically ignoring me all week, running out the front door and banging the gate and screaming, not wanting to get out, just creating a scene. So I eventually lost my temper with Nicholas and as I was talking loudly (yelling) at him his mum walked in. She looked absolutely crushed and disappointed. My immediate reaction was, Oh great! Now shes going to think I scream at him all day. So I went to her to explain what had been happening in Nicholass day. She began to cry. Would I have felt so bad if his mum had not walked in at that particular moment and cried? Yes, probably because the behavior and lack of improvement is really starting to get to me. In the rest of the paper Black and Halliwell give an account of Sandys practical knowledge by presenting her drawings, metaphors and life story to suggest that these forms enable access to Sandys practical knowledge. Here are some examples of the evidence that supports their claim that Constructing and re-constructing personal narratives helped each individual to identify enduring images guiding her practice, resulting in greater awareness and better understandings of who she was, and why she did what she did (p. 112). (1) When examining her life history, Sandy traced her image back to her family upbringing (p. 107). (2) Used alongside her drawing, this helped her get in touch with her feelings of distress about the behaviour of Nicholas and other children with complicated family backgrounds. It helped her identify her own knowledge needs: What to do to help these children? How to cope with the pressures of her work? Creating this metaphor assisted the process of examining the enduring images which guided her work, her emotions, and current and ongoing actions (pp. 108109). (3) Through writing a journal, Sandy realised a lot of things about herself: that she was feeling symptoms of burnout or that she lacks information how to deal with children like Nicholas (pp. 110, 111). However, Black and Halliwells practical conclusion does not follow from their narrative evidence. Those forms of representation generate new insights into Sandys personal knowledge, but not her practical knowledge. Indeed, the authors present a plausible story (i.e. the interpretation sounds reasonable). Yet, they hardly concern themselves with Sandys actions. In the above quotes we can see that through metaphors and life history we gain insight into Sandys personal knowledge, but what about Sandys practice? Do we have any clue about what Sandy does in her teaching? How does she manage the complexities of many everyday teaching
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situations (p. 104)? Apart from one reference to Sandys behaviour towards Nicholas (mainly shouting at him), there is not one word about Sandys teaching practice. The fact that we are familiar with Sandys life story or that we understand how she feels about her work and what motivates her, is not sufcient to persuade us that the writers have revealed Sandys practical knowledge. In order to assert this type of claim, they should present the what along with the why. It is clear that the researchers endorse the view that the personal indeed informs practice, but at the same time they ignore the practice itself. Conle, Li and Tans (2002) Connecting Vicarious Experience to Practice, suffers from similar validity problem. In their research, they argue that reading biographies enhances the practical knowledge of participants, in this case, student teachers. The problem with the way they justify this claim is not the implausibility of their interpretationthe stories they tell seem likelybut rather, once again, the absence of reference to the participants practice. The authors describe in great detail the participants memories which arise as a result of reading these biographies, but they barely tie them to the way the participants acts as a teachers. Though we get pieces of interpretation that are plausible, they fail to serve as justication for participants practical knowledge. To sum up, these examples illustrate a fundamental problem within narrative research that hinders us from accepting its ndings. The problem lies in conceptual ambiguity and equivocation. There are two concepts of practice at work here: the idea of personal-practical knowledge of the sort formed in life stories (i.e. teachers past experiences, memories etc.) and practical knowledge of teachers as it expresses itself in what they are actually able to do in the classroom and with what degree of merit or prociency. We have seen that narrative researchers in Connelly and Clandinins tradition wish to draw a logical connection between personal and practical knowledge, however they fail to do so since they do not distinguish between the two senses of the concept practical knowledge. The result of this ambiguity is a lack of rigorous and coherent connection between the teachers life story and his teaching practice that vitiates the epistemic status of the researchers conclusions. Difculties of this sort are tied to problems revealed within the two leading critiques levelled against the use of rhetorical and aesthetic criteria in narrative research. The rst is Phillips (1994; Shavelson, Phillips, Towne, and Feuer, 2003) argument that narrative researchers accounts are not justied since they do not meet the criteria of truth as corresponding theory. According to his view, rhetorical and aesthetic criteria are not epistemically relevant: there is nothing in the use of narrative form, by itself, he contends, that guarantees the veracity of the content of the account or which vitiates the need for the usual epistemic warrants used in science (Shavelson et al., 2003, p. 27). Phillips, as a member of the post-positivism camp, believes that the epistemic principles of scientic research (e.g. justied, true belief) apply to narrative research. For him, veriability is the key issue, since he assumes that the connection between the story and the teachers practical knowledge is a causal one. Moreover,
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without a stringent demand for truth conceived in this way, it seems that nearly every story would count as credible as long as it sounds like a story. In many cases, Phillips (1994) argues, the question of the storys veracity is crucial. Suppose we decide to build a program for teacher training on the basis of teachers stories. Clearly, building this program on false stories may have detrimental results. Fenstermacher (1994) offers a different line of critique. In his view, narrative researchers who deal with teachers practical knowledge should justify their claims on two different levels: the participants knowledge and the researchers knowledge. Unlike other forms of inquiry, narrative researchers assert that teachers have knowledge of something. The epistemic merit of their practical knowledge claims hinges upon the justication of the teachers actions; otherwise we could say that their account merely describes what the teacher expressed in the course of action, speech, or writing. These expressions may count as practical knowledge only if they meet criteria that distinguish between more intelligent or less intelligent activity. This is the rst level. The second level is the researchers discourse, namely his interpretation. In their attempts to reveal teachers knowledge, narrative researchers do not simply express a point of view or describe an occurrence, but rather they form a knowledge claim. Thus, they should make an effort to justify their account. In summary, if narrative researchers wish to form assertions about what teachers know, they should justify a teachers actions as expressed in his life story, together with their interpretation of his story. In the absence of warrant on any level, we cannot be justied in believing narrative researchers ndings. Although attractive, Phillips and Fenstermachers views are not without difculties of their own. In order to understand these drawbacks, a distinction between causal explanations that post-positivists seek to reveal and teleological or purposive explanations that are common among qualitative researchers needs to be done. Post-positivists presuppose that things, objects, facts, events, and behaviours are related to one another in a mechanical manner in the sense that one thing pushes the other to behave in a certain way; therefore there is a causal connection between them. According to their view the task of scientic inquiry is to discover universal laws or statistical generalisations by deductive and inductive reasoning, explain relations between dependent and independent variables, and predict some consequences from the initial conditions by randomised experimentation (Hempel, 1966). In order to justify this causal link (i.e. that predictable consequences are necessarily or probably caused by dened events under given conditions), they claim, one should provide empirical evidence that corresponds to an external reality (Alexander, 2006, 2010). Contrary to this view, qualitative researchers hold that when it comes to human affairs, scientic inquiry should strive to understand human behaviour and not predict or control it. People cannot be conceived as things, they say, since they dont act mechanically because of the inuence of independent variables, but rather they choose how to act in light of some telos
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(end, purpose) that is established on the basis of culture, norms, language, tradition or past experiences. The roots of this sort of explanation go back to Aristotle and his distinction between theory (Sophia) and practical wisdom (Phronesis). He argued that there are two ways of reasoning within which we can grasp reality: techne, designed to reveal what he called the mechanical causes of events and episteme, which focuses on teleological (purposive) causes. Mechanical causes push events randomly into being. In terms of the modern science this means that a dependent variable is moved mechanically or technically by an independent one. In teleological causes, on the other hand, the ultimate telos (purpose) pull an event toward a natural state inherent in the very rational design or meaning of things (Alexander, 2006; Smith, 2002). Charles Taylor (1964) and Georg Henrik von Wright (1981) took this teleological thinking one step further by suggesting that humans are purposeful beings, and so to understand human behaviour we should inquire into the norms, customs, and purposes that govern ones deeds. For Taylor this telos will always be subordinate to higher ideals, which he calls strong values. In other words, teleological explanations are essentially interpretative, having to do with the norms, experiences and interpretation of the world that motivate (in the sense of pulling forward, not pushing) one to behave in a particular way, thus in order to be able to understand why people act the way they do, we need to explore the normative system that underlies their behaviour. Now, Phillips seems to hold that the connection between the story (personal-practical knowledge) and the teaching practice (professional knowledge) is a causal one; therefore it should be justied by applying to empirical evidence that corresponds to external reality, whereas this connection is fundamentally teleological. We have seen that narrative researchers wish to illuminate teaching practice by exploring teachers professional knowledge as expressed in their life stories. In other words, their main goal is to understand why a teacher chooses to act in a certain way by exploring his or her past experiences as interpreted within the context of a particular story. The link here between past experiences and present teaching practice is not a causal but a teleological one. Hence, the sort of explanation that narrative researchers seek to offer is a teleological explanation of that practice based on life stories. What is interesting in Phillips argument is that he acknowledges that narrative research is not about seeking some kind of mechanism in teachers behaviour, but rather understanding their actions, yet he insists that this tradition should meet the criteria of truth as correspondence theory. This view is problematic since teleological explanations are designed to know the world in terms of the telos or purpose that guides events, thus truth can only be conceived through the prism of our history, culture and tradition (Alexander, 2010). To doubt the epistemic merit of teleological analysis because it does not meet the criteria of truth in the sense of corresponding theory means not to distinguish between two senses of the notion scientic explanation as suggested by Aristotle. The fact that teleological explana 2013 The Author Journal compilation 2013 Journal of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

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tions do not meet the criteria of truth as correspondence theory does not mean they are not as scientic as causal explanations, since they present another way of reasoning within which we can grasp reality. In the wake of the distinction between causal and teleological explanations and the analysis of two narrative studies, I suggest that the problem with the way narrative researchers warrant their knowledge claims is not that they cannot determine the veracity of teachers testimony (as Phillips holds), but rather that they often fail to outline a persuasive description of the teachers practical knowledge, the assessment of which requires a concomitant theory of what should be counted as good practice. I agree with Fenstermachers call for dual justication, on the teacher level and on the researcher level. If narrative researchers wish to make clear where the teachers practical knowledge lies within his life story, they ought to justify both their interpretation and the teachers action. Yet, I disagree with his view that using these justications allows us to be justied in believing narrative researchers knowledge claims. We may only be entitled to believe their knowledge claims, for we can never verify the truth of the teachers testimony. This is not a merely matter of semantics. One can say (as Phillips pointed out) that we are justied in accepting narrative researchers arguments if and only if these accounts are real. This is one of the epistemic requirements that scientists work with, and if narrative researchers want to be taken seriously, they should conform to this requirement. However, the fact that narrative researchers can never verify teachers stories, I suggest, does not defeat the epistemic merit of narrative researchers claims but grants it a different epistemic status: entitlement. This claim is based on Tyler Burges (1993) distinction between justication and entitlement that will be discussed in the following section.

V OUR ENTITLEMENT TO ACCEPT THE FINDINGS OF NARRATIVE RESEARCH

The concept of entitlement is derived from a unique domain of epistemology called epistemology of testimony within which philosophers have tried to form the conditions under which one can obtain knowledge on the basis of a testimony.1 In this discussion Tyler Burge (1993) distinguishes between two epistemic statuses: justication and entitlement. Justication means a posteriori warrant. That is, to be justied in accepting information from someone else we ought to rely on epistemic sources such as sense data, perceptual beliefs, deductive or inductive reasoning and memory regarding the sources truthfulness or its epistemic status. Entitlement, on the other hand, is a priori in the sense that it requires no positive empirical reasons to support it. According to Burge, in many casesas children and often as adultswe lack reasons not to accept what we are told. We normally accept historical truths, mathematical maxims or scientic laws from teachers, experts or people who we consider to be authorities without having any access to their reasons. The fact that we lack reasons in favour of these assertions does not hinder us from relying on this information and
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taking it as true. Hence, we are entitled to believe a persons telling (Burge calls this a presumptive right) as long as we lack reasons to doubt it. Burges epistemic view has been criticised under the claim that this normative epistemic right yields a credulous attitude towards any testimony since it implies that on any occasion of testimony, we have the epistemic right to assume, without evidence, that the speaker is trustworthy, i.e. that what she says will be true, unless there are special circumstances which defeat this presumption (Fricker, 1994). Another criticism levelled against Burges view suggests that his approach is implausible since human experience has a substantive role in the process of warranting others assertions. According to this view, we use our senses to justify what someone says in the same way that we justify propositions such as p is true (Christensen and Kornblith, 1997). Though I nd these critiques plausible, I believe that Burges view provides a useful conceptual framework to clarify how we should think about the epistemic status of teachers stories, for his distinction between justication and entitlement enables us to talk about two epistemic statutes that are grounded in different sorts of reasons: the rst one is justication, which is based on the common epistemic standard of justied, true (in the sense of correspondence theory) belief, while the second is entitlement not la Burge (i.e. a priori), but based on positive reasonsteleological explanationswhich do not require a correspondence conception of truth. In other words, entitlement as suggested by Burge is an epistemic right or warrant that constitutes knowledge as justication, but derived from a different type of reasons: the lack of negative reasons instead of positive reasons. Hence it seems reasonable to say that although we are not justied in believing narrative researchers conclusions because they do not meet the criteria of truth as correspondence theory, we nonetheless might be entitled to accept them in the case that the connection between teachers life stories (personal-practical knowledge) and their professional knowledge is well-articulated by teleological explanations that emerge from the teachers life stories. These teleological explanations refer to the ethical ends upon which people act, therefore they hold justicational force, i.e. they function as reasons one provides in order to justify ones behaviour. I propose three criteria to warrant our entitlement to knowledge claims in narrative research of the relevant sort that tie rhetoric to practice and ethics: (1) the meeting of hermeneutic 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 teachers actions to an articulate and defensible end-in-view (Dewey, 1938) or vision of the good (Alexander, 2006, 2010). It is worth noting that while the hermeneutic criterion relates to the rst sense of practical knowledge, i.e. the life story of the teachers, their past experiences, memories, events etc., the practical criterion relates to the practical knowledge in the sense of professional knowledge, i.e. what teachers are actually able to do in the classroom and with what degree of merit or prociency. The ethical criterion relates to the connection between these two senses of practical knowledge.
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Hermeneutic standards entail such criteria as plausibility, adequacy, and persuasion, which are aimed at convincing us that a researchers interpretation of a teachers life story makes sense. Justifying or validating these accounts can be conducted from a variety of interpretative tools: thematic analysis, structural analysis and the researchers reectivity about the prejudices that guide his understanding. These hermeneutic criterions enable us to appreciate the interpretation of the teachers life stories offered by narrative researchers. Practical conditions apply to teachers practiceprofessional knowledge as expressed in the life story. According to this condition, narrative studies should include teachers stories about their pedagogical practice, in addition to other aspects of their life histories. Teachers must testify not only about their childhood or adult life, but also about specic actions in their professional practice. In the absence of evidence referring to their abilities as professionals, we cannot be entitled to accept narrative researchers accounts, for such evidence is indispensable for illuminating teaching practice within teachers life stories. Ethical conditions tie a teachers narrative to his or her professional practice in a teleological manner. Following Aristotle, Dewey, Taylor and von-Wright, Alexander (2005, 2006, 2010) argues that human activity is never conducted in a vacuum, but rather within norms, ideas and values that are constantly being shaped by culture, language, history and tradition. However, this teleological connection, to his view, can only be properly understood within the connes of a coherent and defensible concept of the good. This framework consists of standards for a vision of the good life that are assumed, at least as a regulative principle, to transcend the experience of any individual or group, even though we can only grasp their meaning from within the connes of our own contingent lives. In the case of narrative research, of the relevant sort, this means the teachers understanding of what counts as good teaching practice or what is considered as a worthwhile activity. Thus, in order to understand why a teacher chooses to act in a certain way we need to explore the purposes and intentions, the values, ideals and norms, that are established on past experiences and which govern peoples lives, in the sense of motivating them to behave in a particular manner. Those ethical views require commitment to what Alexander (2001, 2010) has called the three conditions of ethical discourse: the assumption that people are intelligent, free, and fallible. To be able to hold a moral stance, one must possess the intelligence to think critically about why, whether and to what degree a standard of merit has been achieved. Another feature of ethical discourse is the assumption that people are free agents. One can talk meaningfully about moral standards only if it is assumed within reasonable limits that people are the agents of their own actions and so able to choose one course over another. But the fact that someone is the agent of his action entails the possibility that he or she could be wrong, according to the relevant ethical theory. Viewed in this light, dogmatic standards cannot be considered as ethical, since they would be closed to interaction and emendation on the basis of feedback
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from the practical environment in which the teacher practices his or her craft. In this article I have argued that although the knowledge claims of narrative researchers may not be justied, we might nonetheless be intellectually entitled to accept them if they provide a plausible reconstruction of events that is connected to a reasonable account of a teachers practice, presented within an articulate and defensible concept of what it could possibly mean for practice of that kind to be considered worthy of praise.2 Correspondence: Galit Caduri, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, PO Box 5336, Karkur 37504, Israel. Email: galit.caduri@gmail.com

NOTE
1. There are two different views on this issue. The reductionism view, following Hume (1999), claims that only empirical evidence can count as a justication for acquiring testimonial knowledge, while the anti-reductionism camp holds that every assertion is creditworthy until shown otherwise (Reid, 1970). The idea behind this approach is that there is an a priori connection between testimony and reality. The fact that we need positive reasons in order to justify others testimony, claims Coady (2002), implies that under certain circumstances there is no conformity at all between testimony and reality. This supposition is not plausible since any utterance correlates with or conjoined to any situation according to some principle of matching (p. 245, italics in original). This view is based on a philosophical account named externalism in which ones justication to believe p depends on matters of facts that are external to one rather than on internal reasons such as perceptions, inference and such (Goldman, 2000; Nozick, 1981). 2. A previous version of this article was presented at the PESGB conference in 2011. I am grateful to the audience for their comments. Im also particularly indebted to Hanan Alexander and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments.

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