About the Center for Nursing Philosophy

The profession of nursing has a social mandate to contribute to health. The American Nursing Association’s current definition of nursing is “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations” (2015, p. 1).

The academic discipline of nursing has a goal to generate knowledge that allows for nurses to achieve their professional mandate. Yet a defining issue for the nursing discipline since its inception has been the complexity of professional nursing practice, which precludes the notion that any single account of it can be adequate (Green, 2018; Holmes & Gastaldo, 2004, Bender & Holmes, 2019, Bender 2018).

This basic fact raises distinct challenges in conceptualizing nursing knowledge. Nursing knowledge is an ambiguous term that can mean the knowing practice of nurses in hospitals and communities, nursing theories, or the results of empirical research studies, to name but a few conceptualizations.

This ambiguity and plurality challenge the notion of a “core” disciplinary knowledge, which as Sally Thorne has noted is “maddeningly elusive” (Thorne, 2014). It also raises critical questions about what constitutes the nursing discipline’s focus of inquiry and of methods for examining nursing phenomena. It has led to a defining disciplinary paradox -the dualism of nursing science and art, which has become a focus for nursing philosophy.

The art-science dualism is only one way of expressing ongoing discourse and debate within the nursing discipline about its philosophical orientation and subsequent conceptualizations of knowledge, practice, and scholarship. There is a compelling need to create novel structures and modalities to overcome these seemingly entrenched divides. What is needed is a space where scholars can have open discussion about the concepts and meanings of terms such as nursing science, practice, theory, and knowledge.

The Center for Nursing Philosophy hopes to be that space. The CNP, in order to fulfill its mission, must engage with the national and international philosophy community. We actively seek affiliations with known philosophy organizations (for example IPONS, the University of Alberta Unit for Philosophical Nursing Research) and invite scholars to UCI with the goal of fostering dialogue and philosophical programs of scholarship, including doctoral student training, conference organization, and in-person and virtual dissemination of ongoing and completed scholarship. The CNP will also actively recruit faculty from departments of general philosophy both within UCI and across institutions to expand CNP’s scope of knowledge and expertise.

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