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Alasdair MacIntyre and the professional practice of nursing

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In his attempt to explain and draw together disparate aspects of the tradition of the virtues MacIntyre develops a complex and specific concept that he terms a practice. By a practice he means to describe certain types of activities in which excellences can be pursued and that offer those engaged in a practice access to the goods internal to that practice.

Sellman and Wainwright have both suggested that there are advantages to be had in understanding nursing as a practice in this MacIntyrean sense. This paper suggests that nursing should be considered as a particular type of MacIntyrean practice, and I have used the term a professional practice to identify this species.

This paper also considers some of the implications of such a perspective and suggests that one benefit of thinking of nursing as a professional practice is that it may offer a route by which the virtues necessary for nursing can be identified.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of the West of England, Faculty of Health & Social Care, Glenside Campus, Blackberry Hill, Bristol BS16 1DD, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2000


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