Emotion, moral perception, and nursing practice

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Many of the activities of clinical practice happen to, with or upon vulnerable human beings. For this reason numerous nursing authors draw attention to or claim a significant moral domain in clinical practice. A number of nursing authors also discuss the emotional involvement and/or emotional labour which is often experienced in clinical practice. In this article I explore the importance of emotion for moral perception and moral agency. I suggest that an aspect of being a good nurse is having an emotional sensitivity to other human beings (patients), because this emotional sensitivity allows the nurse to perceive more accurately the context and perspective of the patient. It is thus important to the moral agency of the nurse and to morally sensitive clinical practice. As such education of the emotions should be a feature of the moral education of the nurse. A useful conception of the role of educated emotion in the moral life can be discovered in Aristotelian ethics.

Keywords: emotion; moral decision making; moral perception; nursing practice

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1466-769x.2000.00023.x

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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