Scepticism about the virtue ethics approach to nursing ethics

Nursing Philosophy 11 (3):151-158 (2010)
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Abstract

Nursing ethics centres on how nurses ought to respond to the moral situations that arise in their professional contexts. Nursing ethicists invoke normative approaches from moral philosophy. Specifically, it is increasingly common for nursing ethicists to apply virtue ethics to moral problems encountered by nurses. The point of this article is to argue for scepticism about this approach. First, the research question is motivated by showing that requirements on nurses such as to be kind, do not suffice to establish virtue ethics in nursing because normative rivals (such as utilitarians) can say as much; and the teleology distinctive of virtue ethics does not transpose to a professional context, such as nursing. Next, scepticism is argued for by responding to various attempts to secure a role for virtue ethics in nursing. The upshot is that virtue ethics is best left where it belongs – in personal moral life, not professional ethics – and nursing ethics is best done by taking other approaches.

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Stephen Holland
University of York

References found in this work

After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Mind, Value, and Reality.John Henry McDowell - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Samuel Scheffler - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (3):443.
The Nicomachean Ethics.Aristotle . (ed.) - 1926 - New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press UK.
Public Health Ethics.Stephen Holland - 2007 - Hoboken, NJ: Polity.

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