Critical Reflections About Professional Ethical Stances: Have We Lost Sight of the Major Objectives?
Journal of Nursing Education. 1996 Mar; 35(3): 119-126.
Increasingly, the professional literature reflects a call for the adoption of a (feminist) "ethic of caring" as a model for moral education is nursing. But what is not clear is the relationship between "care" and "ethics, " or between an "ethic of caring" and "moral education." Has ethics, and the issue of ethics education for nurses, become entangled with what may be a separate issue of an "ethic of caring" for the nursing profession? This article presents an overview of evolving ethical stances of three professions, and shows how the dichotomous views within philosophy and psychology have strongly influenced ethical thought in nursing. Major questions concerning the stances are raised. Nurse educators need to have a critical awareness of the scope and complexity of the discussion, and the ability to closely scrutinize conclusions reached by each profession's theorists. Viewpoints concerning what should comprise ethics education in nursing will depend on the particular ethical stance adopted. Ethics education for nurses will continue in its present confused state until there is focused and directed critical reflection about what is currently known regarding moral development, ethical thought, and the role of education in both.
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