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Philosophical Inquiry and the Goals of Nursing

A Critical Approach for Disciplinary Knowledge Development and Action

Grace, Pamela J., PhD, RN, FAAN; Perry, Donna J., PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/ANS.0b013e3182901921
Original Articles

Philosophical inquiry remains critically important for nursing education, practice, and knowledge development. We propose a 3-level taxonomy of philosophical inquiry to guide nursing curricula and research development. Important background information about philosophy and the development of philosophical methods is given. Then philosophical inquiry is linked to the goals of nursing using our proposed taxonomy: level I—cultivating an attitude of “critical consciousness” related to all nursing situations and actions, level II—analysis and application of philosophical perspectives to nursing problems and level III—generating new knowledge for nursing purposes including new theories of practice and research.

William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (Dr Grace); and University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Nursing, Worcester (Dr Perry).

Correspondence: Pamela J. Grace, PhD, RN, FAAN, William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Cushing Hall, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 (

The authors thank 3 anonymous reviewers whose insightful comments and suggestions were invaluable to them in revising the article. The authors also thank Nick Dionne-Odom for his informal review of an earlier versions of the article. His comments were very helpful to the authors in refining their ideas.

The authors have no conflicts of interest related to this manuscript.

© 2013Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins