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The binary: an obstacle to scholarly nursing discourse?

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Recently, a concern has been raised about a particular kind of behaviour that is adversely affecting the quality of nursing theoretical discourse. With the behaviour being attributed to nurses’ tendency to think in binary terms, it has been proposed that nurses replace their binary way of thinking with thinking that is inclusive and expansive and is based on an epistemology of contradiction. While agreeing that the behaviour of concern is indeed unscholarly, I disagree that the culprit is the binary. In this commentary, I argue that the culprit is sophistical argumentation involving a binary (real or not) and that, by not making room for legitimate binaries, we run the danger of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’. Further, I argue that the proffered solution is illusory. Its epistemological basis prohibits the deliverance of that which is promised.

Keywords: binary; nursing knowledge; nursing theory; scholarly discourse

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2006


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