Duke University Philosophy of Nursing Science Essay
The philosophy of science assignment is a 5-6 page scholarly paper (excluding title page and reference page) written in APA (7th ed.) format, and includes a title page, headings and a reference list. The purpose of the paper is to introduce graduate-prepared nursing students to philosophical worldviews that shape the way knowledge is viewed among various disciplines including nursing. Please look at the rubric for detailed criteria of the paper. Overall, you will identify a philosophical worldview and provide a thorough analysis of it including its origins and evolution. In addition, you will discuss how your philosophy influenced methods of inquiry, scientific reasoning, and nursing science over time. Lastly you will summarize your thoughts on how Postmodernism influenced the creation of new knowledge and nursing science today. Identify a philosophical worldview of your interest from what has been covered in class so far. Give a brief description of the philosophy’s assumptions including the originators and how it has evolved through years.
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeDiscuss how the philosophical worldview chosen influenced the methods of inquiry and scientific reasoning over time among various academic disciplines.
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeConclude with your thoughts on how contemporary schools of thought (modern and post-modern) have influenced the creation of new knowledge, nursing scholarship and nursing science today.
Following completion of this chapter, the reader will be able to:
Describe characteristics of a science, a profession, and an academic
Explain why it is important for nursing to be recognized as a science, a
profession, and an academic discipline and what is necessary for those
Discuss various worldviews related to scientific and philosophical schools
of thought of interest to nurses.
Describe the process of knowledge development in nursing science.
Differentiate among the multiple “ways of knowing” in nursing and give
examples of each.
Nursing as a Profession vs.
Characteristics of a profession include:
Defined and specialized knowledge base.
Control and authority over training and education.
Credentialing system or registration to ensure competence.
Altruistic service to society.
A code of ethics.
Formal training within institutions of higher education.
Lengthy socialization to the profession.
Nursing as a Profession
Nursing as an Academic
“A discipline is a branch of educational
instruction or a department of learning or
Nurses as an Academic
Characteristics of discipline includes:
1) A distinct perspective and syntax.
2) What phenomena are of interest 3) the context in
which the phenomena are viewed 4) what questions to
ask 5) what methods of study are used and 5) what
evidence is proof.
Ways to Classify Disciplines
Basic Sciences vs. Humanities
Academic Disciplines vs. Professional Disciplines
“How is nursing classified??”
Areas that Identify Nursing as a
1) An identifiable philosophy.
2) At least one conceptual framework
(perspective) for delineation of what can be
defined as nursing.
3) Acceptable methodologic approaches for
the pursuit and development of knowledge.
Draws from many disciplines:
– In the past, nursing relied heavily on physiology,
sociology, psychology, and medicine to provide
academic standing and to inform practice.
– In recent decades, nursing has been seeking
what is unique to nursing and developing those aspects
into the academic discipline.
Introduction to Science and
Science and philosophy shares the common
goal of increasing knowledge.
The science of any discipline is tied to its
philosophy, which provides the basis for
understanding and developing theories for
Overview of Science
Science is concerned with causality.
The scientific approach to understanding
reality is characterized by observation,
verifiability, and experience; hypothesis
testing and experimentation.
Characteristics of Science
1. Science must show a certain coherence.
2. Science is concerned with definite fields of knowledge.
3. Science is preferably expressed in universal statements.
4. The statements of science must be true or probably true.
5. The statements of science must be logically ordered.
6. Science must explain its investigations and arguments.
Overview of Philosophy
Philosophy has been defined as “a study of problems
that are ultimate, abstract, and general.”
These problems are concerned with the nature of
existence, knowledge, morality, reason, and human
Philosophy tries to discover knowledge and truth and
attempts to identify what is valuable and important.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) – rationalist
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)- empiricist
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)-
Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)Empiricist
Known as “Father of
believed in empirical
scientific methods for
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Believes that reason is
superior to experience as a
source of knowledge.
Rationalist attempts to
determine the nature of the
world and reality by
deduction and stress
importance of mathematical
Immanuel Kant- German
His work set the foundation
for many later developments
He believes knowledge is
relative and that the mind
plays an active role in
The mind shapes and
structures all experiences
including physical ones.
Most influential philosopher
of science in the 20th
“There is no single truth.”
Believes knowledge is true
if it withstands tests of
utility and reason.
Focus is on lived experience,
learned reality, human
interpretation less on
experiments in laboratory
Period of Modern Science
3 Philosophies of Science (paradigms/worldviews)
1. Received View: empiricism, positivism
2. Perceived View: constructivism/phenomenology
3. Postmodernism: Began around 1960s, feminist
philosophies, absence of strict control over
methodology and interpretation of research.
Nursing and Empiricism
Early nurse scientists embraced the importance of
objectivity, control, fact, and measurement of smaller
Based on this influence, acceptable methods for
knowledge generation in nursing have stressed
traditional, orthodox, and preferably experimental
Nursing and Postmodernism
Emerged as a dominant scientific theoretical
paradigm in nursing in the late 1990s.
This view supports the blending or integration
of qualitative and quantitative research into
a holistic, dynamic model to improve nursing
and Nursing Science
Epistemology is the study of the theory of
What do we know?
What is the extent of our knowledge?
How do we decide whether we know?
What are the criteria of knowledge?
Ways of Knowing
Table 1-4 pg.14
Moral or ethical
Research Methodology and
Nursing requires research
that is applied and clinical
that generates and tests
theories related to health of
human beings within their
environments as well as the
actions and processes used
by nurses in practice.
This approach study human
life by valuing the lived
experience of persons and
seek to understand life in its
matrix of patterns of
meaning and values.
Qualitative vs Quantitative
– developed from positivistic
-a method to study human
phenomena that is grounded
in social science.
– utilizes: measuring,
analyzing, replicating, and
applying the knowledge
Arose because aspects of
human values, culture, and
relationships were unable to
be described using only
The Future of Nursing
The Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2011)
recommendations directed toward the
1. Nurses should be able to practice to the
full extent of their education.
2. IOM promotes “seamless academic
3. Nurses should be full partners with
physicians and other health
OVERVIEW OF THEORY
(MCEWEN & MILLS)
1. Describe theory classifications, components and
its use for practice, education and research in
2. Define theoretical terms.
3. We will discuss the different types of theories,
including grand, middle-range, practice and
borrowed theories in planning to meet the needs
of individuals, families, and populations.
Waste of time.
No practical value.
What comes to your mind
when you hear the words
Definition of Theory
“At a basic level, theory has been described as
a systematic explanation of an event in which
constructs and concepts are identified and
relationships are proposed and predictions
made” (Streubert & Carpenter, 2011).
What is the importance of
Theory in Nursing?
Why Theory is Important to Nursing
Theory offers structure and organization to nursing
knowledge and provides a systematic means of
collecting data to describe, explain, and predict nursing
2. Use of theory also promotes rational and systematic
practice by challenging and validating intuition.
3. Theories define and clarify nursing and the purpose of
nursing practice to distinguish it from other caring
professions by setting professional boundaries.
4. Finally, use of a theory in nursing leads to coordinated
and less fragmented care.
Terminology of Theory
Borrowed or shared
Middle Range Theory
Theory Development in Nursing
-1st modern nursing theorist
“to nurse” meant having
charge of the personal health
-1859 she proposed basic
premise for nursing practice
which was published in 1859.
Stages of Theory Development
in Nursing (Table 2-2 pg.29)
Table 2-3: Significant Events in Theory
Development in Nursing
1859 Nightingale publishes
1920 Columbia University: Doctorate in Education
Classifications of Theories in Nursing
Middle range theories
Refers to a theory about theory.
In nursing, metatheory focuses on broad issues.
Walker and Avant (2011) presented an overview of
historical trends in nursing metatheory.
-1960s discussion involved nursing as an
academic discipline and the relationship to basic
-Recent issues relate to the philosophy of
nursing and address what levels of theory
development are needed for nursing practice,
research and education
Are the most complex and broadest in scope.
Attempt to explain broad areas within a discipline
and may include a lot of other theories.
They are nonspecific and are made of abstract
concepts that operational definitions.
The majority of the nursing conceptual frameworks
are considered to be grand theories.
Middle Range Theories
Lies between the grand nursing models and more
concrete ideas related to practice.
They are specific and includes a limited number of
concepts and a limited parts of the real world.
These theories are made of mostly concrete
concepts that can be operationally defined and
relatively concrete propositions that may be
Also called situation-specific theories, prescriptive
theories, or microtheories and are the LEAST
More specific than middle range theories and
produce specific directions for practice.
Contain few concepts and refer to specific, easily
Descriptive (Factor-Isolating) Theories
Explanatory (Factor-Relating) Theories
Predictive (Situation-Relating) Theories
Prescriptive (Situation-Producing) Theories
General Systems Theory
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Proposed in 1936
Founder and principle
author of GST
“ GST is a general
GST Basic Principles
A system is a complex of interacting elements and
they are open to, and interact with their
They can acquire qualitatively new properties
through emergence, thus they are in continual
A system is greater than than the sum of its parts.
Examples: health care system, a family system,
body systems, information systems, etc.
Theory offers structure and organization to nursing
knowledge and provides a systematic means of
collecting data to describe , explain and predict
Nursing “borrows” or “shares” theories and
concepts from other disciplines to guide theory
development, research and practice.
The concepts of nursing, person, environment, and
health are widely accepted as the dominant
phenomena in nursing.
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