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Ontologies of nursing in an age of spiritual pluralism: closed or open worldview?

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Abstract

North American society has undergone a period of sacralization where ideas of spirituality have increasingly been infused into the public domain. This sacralization is particularly evident in the nursing discourse where it is common to find claims about the nature of persons as inherently spiritual, about what a spiritually healthy person looks like and about the environment as spiritually energetic and interconnected. Nursing theoretical thinking has also used claims about the nature of persons, health, and the environment to attempt to establish a unified ontology for the discipline. However, despite this common ground, there has been little discussion about the intersections between nursing philosophic thinking and the spirituality in nursing discourse, or about the challenges of adopting a common view of these claims within a spiritually pluralist society. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the call for ontological unity within nursing philosophic thinking in the context of the sacralization of a diverse society. I will begin with a discussion of secularization and sacralization, illustrating the diversity of beliefs and experiences that characterize the current trend towards sacralization. I will then discuss the challenges of a unified ontological perspective, or closed world view, for this diversity, using examples from both a naturalistic and a unitary perspective. I will conclude by arguing for a unified approach within nursing ethics rather than nursing ontology.
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Keywords: ethics; nursing theory; philosophy of nursing; religion; spirituality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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