The recognition of the ethical in the context of professional life
AbstractThis thesis examines the ways in which ethical considerations are recognised in the context of professional life. It combines an empirical survey of the ethical opinions and practices of nursing professionals with philosophical analysis. Its central aim is to investigate the perceived discontinuity between the sort of theories traditionally offered by philosophers to provide guidance for ethical decision making and the actual decision making procedures typically engaged in by professionals in their daily working practices. Eventually the thesis seeks to identify an approach to professional ethics that is both theoretically plausible and practically useful. It is contended that a key way into the debate is to identify the two broad types of philosophical approach to the distinctive nature of professional ethics. These are labelled "The Moral Theory Approach" and "Contextualism". The Moral Theory Approach includes any specific theory which adopts the two fundamental principles of universalizability and impartiality, and the presuppositions that moral argument should be rationalistic in procedure and prioritise conceptions of what it is right to do over what it is good to be. The various forms of contextualism, by contrast, reject all of the aforementioned principles and presuppositions. At this point it is noted that while The Moral Theory Approach represents the "dominant" philosophical conception of the relationship between theory and practice, the evidence gathered in the empirical survey clearly favours a contextualist interpretation. From here onwards the contextualist position is supported by drawing upon theoretical arguments and empirical evidence to expose deep and irresolvable flaws in the principles and presuppositions of The Moral Theory Approach. These flaws are shown to account for the perceived discontinuity between ethical theory and professional practice, thus once they are diagnosed a contextualist alternative is shown to offer a theoretically and practically sustainable alternative.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/