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Nurs Ethics. 2002 Sep;9(5):494-507.

A fundamental ethical approach to nursing: some proposals for ethics education.

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Center for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.


The purpose of this article is to explore a fundamental ethical approach to nursing and to suggest some proposals, based on this approach, for nursing ethics education. The major point is that the kind of nursing ethics education that is given reflects the theory that is held of nursing. Three components of a fundamental ethical view on nursing are analysed more deeply: (1) nursing considered as moral practice; (2) the intersubjective character of nursing; and (3) moral perception. It is argued that the fundamental ethical view on nursing goes together with a virtue ethics approach. Suggestions are made for the ethics education of nurses. In particular, three implications are considered: (1) an attitude versus action-orientated ethics education; (2) an integral versus rationalistic ethics education; and (3) a contextual model of ethics education. It will also be shown that the European philosophical background offers some original ideas for this endeavour.

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