Sensitive Judgement: An Inquiry Into the Foundations of Nursing Ethics
Nursing Ethics. 1998 Sep; 5(5): 385-392.
This article considers the foundation of nursing as a moral practice. Its basic claim is that all nursing knowledge and action reside on a moral foundation. The clinical gaze meets vulnerability in the patient's human condition. To see a patient's wound is to see his or her hurt and discomfort; it is a concerned observation. To see the factual and pathophysiological is at the same time to see the ethical: the moral realities of suffering, pain and discomfort. A nurse's emotional sensitivities are central to understanding a patient's experiences of illness. Emotions reveal value and ascribe moral importance to certain situations; they are addressed centrally by vulnerability and the moral realities of illness. Hence, the essence of nursing knowledge and nursing performance cannot be understood merely as ontology (i.e., as being-with-the-other). Nursing is basically being-for-the-other; it is responsibility; it is ethics.
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