Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2022
This chapter considers ethical prototypes, which give needed specificity to the very general ethical orientations defined by principles and parameters. In ethical decision and behavior, we are concerned with sequences of actions and the motivations guiding these actions. In other words, we are concerned with stories. In this chapter, I argue that the prototypes at issue in specifying our ethical orientations are, most importantly, the universal story structures that I have sought to isolate in earlier works – heroic, romantic, sacrificial, family separation, seduction, revenge, and criminal investigation. These narrative structures are inseparable from human emotion systems. Indeed, story universals are shaped by emotion–motivation systems (along with some general patterns in emotion intensification); those systems (and patterns) account for their universality. In addition, these story genres are of crucial importance for the way we think about and respond to various worldly concerns, such as politics. The third chapter extends these arguments to ethics.