Human nature: a foundation for palliative care

Nursing Philosophy 9 (2):77-88 (2008)
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The Aristotelian‐Thomist philosopher holds that human intellectual knowledge is possible because of the order in the world and natural human capacities. It is the position of this paper that there is a shared human form or nature that unites all humanity as members of the same kind. Moral treatment is due to every human being because they are human, and is not based upon expression of abilities. Humans have substantial dynamic existence in the world, an existence which overflows in expressive relationships. As both patient and health professional are human, human nature forms the natural foundation of health care. This paper looks towards human nature for moral guidance. The therapeutic relationship is seen as a part of the interpersonal moral space formed by human relationality, which tends towards community – in this case, the healthcare system. The therapeutic relationship is also a source of moral responsibility, as illness makes the patient vulnerable, while knowledge and nursing capacities generate in the nurse a duty to care. Nursing theory serves to connect philosophical reflection and nursing practice. Imogene King's conceptual system and theory of Goal Attainment is the theory that follows from the perspective of human person being presented. This synthesis of philosophy and theory is developed with the goal of shedding light on healthcare decisions in palliative care. The article concludes with the acknowledgement that the complexity of contextualized individual decisions requires the insight and discipline of the moral practitioner, and provides some thoughts on how education, development, and refinement transform an individual into a nurse.



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Beverly Whelton
Wheeling Jesuit University

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The basic works of Aristotle. Aristotle - 1941 - New York: Modern Library. Edited by Richard McKeon.

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