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Philosophical inquiry and the goals of nursing

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Philosophy is derived from a Greek word meaning love of wisdom. But, it is more accurately defined as inquiry or reflection. Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as a discipline. The question is the examination of facts or principles. So, philosophical inquiry is the logical testing of assumed valid rules about knowledge, reality and existence.

What is the reading about? What argument do the authors make?

The article explains the philosophy and the development of philosophical methods, considering the philosophical inquiry as a critical method for the nursing profession. It articulates the philosophical question to the goals of nursing, using the proposed taxonomy with the purpose to guide nursing curricula and research development.

Thus, philosophical inquiry is significant for nursing education, practice, and knowledge development. The article is concluded with the possible reasons for the underutilization of philosophical research in nursing and arguments for efforts to strengthen its application.

In what ways do you agree/disagree with the argument made in the article and why?

The authors’ idea that the philosophical inquiry is a habit which should be cultivated by the nurses is appealing to me. It facilitates the contextualising of nursing problems within the political, societal, and cultural aspects of practice.

I concur with the authors’ view that the philosophical method of inquiry challenges the nurses not to accept the status quo without question considering directed mindfulness as a critical stance of the technique. I am of the same mind that the function of philosophy is to foster intellectual independence. Thus, provoking the questions like why they exist, what is their function (ontology), what constitutes their knowledge (epistemology), and what are disciplinary responsibilities (moral philosophy/ethics).

The article annotates the three levels of proposed taxonomy focusing on (I) adopting the philosophical attitude of critical consciousness that includes the ability and willingness to challenges taken-for-granted assumptions in all nursing situations and actions, (II) development of analytic skills and application of pertinent philosophical perspectives to nursing problems, and (III) generation of new nursing knowledge, new theories of practice and research.

How does the content of this reading inform practice?

The philosophical inquiry is an integral component of nursing practice and knowledge development. It helps in the identification and analysis of emerging problems and addresses the unmet human needs by synthesising the new understandings as per the requirement and possibility. Thus, focusing on the primary goals of nursing including the promotion of health, prevention of illness, restoration of health and alleviation of sufferings.

How might it change how you think about nursing practice?

Knowledge development is an ongoing imperative for the nursing profession. Firstly, the nurses should consider the available knowledge in their quest to achieve nursing goals, subjecting to analysis and critique new knowledge of various kinds.

The organisations should encourage the nurses to ground their practice in research-based knowledge. The management should develop a particular attitude, training, and mentoring of health care professionals in this regard. The undergraduate nursing programs can include courses on philosophy as part of their curriculum that will enable the development of critical thinking skills among the nurses. Secondly, the proposed taxonomy can provide a framework for curriculum development across levels.

Secondly, the nursing researchers and scholars should pursue philosophical inquiry as a means of understanding and the ways to achieve disciplinary goals. Thirdly, the nurses can be trained on the rational methods that would permit the development of an ability to question the status quo, critical evaluation of problems, and the envision of innovative solutions.

Moreover, the nursing scholars can develop the explanatory theoretical frameworks of practice that could provide insights about professional goals, effective methods for achieving these goals and revising them in light of social and human needs, responses, and environmental challenges. Furthermore, the hospital-based nurse ethicist can teach ethical frameworks of analysis to staff, advanced practice nurses, and other clinicians.

In this manner, philosophical questions generated by a bedside nurse at the level established philosophical/ethical frameworks can inform me at level II.


Thus, philosophical inquiry is a moral obligation of the profession that nurtures as an attitude to be cultivated by nurses. All nursing actions, therefore, practice, theorising, education, research, and policy-making should be aimed at realising nursing goals and removing socio-political obstructions to that goal.

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