School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4P5, Canada
In understanding fully persons’ moral predicaments, a core component of forming perceptual judgments, nurses may need to shift the epistemology of their practice from instrumental reasoning, or means-ends thinking, integrating a virtue-based practical reasoning. A bearing witness that achieves understanding of clients’ moral qualities is attained through the articulation of nurses’ self-identities within matrices, such as MacIntyre’s theory of virtue ethics and standards and codes of ethics. Moreover, nurse leaders who exercise stewardship could apply the concept of communities of inquiry to structure learning conditions by which nurses may engage in experiential learning. This leadership enhanced by the nurse steward’s phronetic knowledge, or practical wisdom, which guides understanding of how the clockwork of practical reasoning may evolve within such communities, is critical to nurses’ shift in reasoning. Nonetheless, nurse leaders need empirical evidence to comprehend how stewards’ accumulated moral insights may shape their character qualities, hence selection of values upon which to act in facilitating nurses’ self-expression.
Keywords: Bearing witness, moral agents, nurse stewards, practical reasoning, virtue-ethics.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4P5, Canada; Tel: 902-494-2223; Fax: 902-494-3487; E-mail: Norma.Murphy@dal.ca