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Pragmatic Utility: Using Analytical Questions to Explore the Concept of Ethical Sensitivity

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Ethical sensitivity is the means and capacity through which professionals strive to understand and compassionately respond to those in their care. As a transdisciplinary concept, ethical sensitivity can facilitate knowledge development across disciplines. To clarify and reduce ambiguities, the concept of ethical sensitivity was analyzed using the pragmatic utility method. With this method, the investigator uses analytical questions arising from in-depth understanding of the literature to synthesize data, to push beyond the limits of isolated findings and individual disciplines, to identify shared knowledge, and to provide new insights, lines of questioning, and direction. In this article, the role, technique, results, advantages, and limitations of the pragmatic utility method are elucidated. Characteristics of ethical sensitivity are its (a) preconditions of suffering and vulnerability cues, uncertainty, relationships characterized by receptivity and responsiveness, and courage; (b) attributes of moral perception, affectivity, and dividing loyalties; and (c) outcomes of client comfort and well-being, professional learning and self-transcendence, and integrity-preserving compromise. Use of the pragmatic utility method enhanced comprehension, meaning, relevance, and dimensions of the concept of ethical sensitivity as conveyed in the academic literature of selected professional disciplines.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2006

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