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Nurs Philos. 2003 Apr;4(1):53-60.

Fuzzy logic and nursing.

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School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701, USA.


In empiricism, there are only two answers for a question: black or white. Yet, subjective meanings of human behaviours and responses toward health and illness cannot be simply explained with black and white. Gray zones are needed because they are characterized by complexity and require a contextual understanding. In this paper, we present and suggest fuzzy logic as an example of theoretical bases that help transcend the conflicts between objectivity and subjectivity, respect gray zones between black and white answers for questions, and provide a contextual understanding of complex nursing phenomenon. A historical review of fuzzy logic is followed by a definition of fuzzy logic. Then, fuzzy logic is discussed in terms of its compatibility with nursing epistemological views and philosophical thoughts. Fuzzy logic agrees with three categories of epistemological views of nursing, including correspondence, coherence and pragmatism. Fuzzy logic also agrees with four major philosophical thoughts in nursing, including postempiricism, pragmatism, feminism, and postmodernism. Based on the discussion, we propose that fuzzy logic be further explored, used and developed in research and practice in the nursing areas/situations/phenomena that are characterized by complexity, ambiguousness, and vagueness.

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