Traditions and practice — nursing theory and political philosophy

  • Keith Cash


Keith Cash points out that nursing theories tacitly presuppose or stipulate some conception of what nursing is. His claim is that such theories have not yet been successful and that this is, in part, due to their omitting to consider appropriately the question of what nursing is. Cash proposes that one fruitful way of conceiving of nursing is as a practice in the sense of that term explicated by MacIntyre (1985). In MacIntyres account, the identities of practices are anchored in their histories, in tradition. Furthermore, it is argued that practices have certain characteristic, unifying features. For example, they embody a shared conception of what ‘good practice’ within the practice consists of Hence, participants in a practice can be expected to share certain values and recognise certain virtues. Also, ways of resolving disputes within the practice (what Cash terms ‘argumentation conditions’) are characteristically recognised. So members of a unified practice can be expected to apply similar criteria for the recognition of problems within the practice and also for the resolution of such problems. Agreement in argumentation conditions means that members of a practice will be in a position to reach agreement concerning when a problem has arisen within the practice, how a problem can be posed and what will count as its resolution. Thus, a unified practice has resources within it which can resolve problems.


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Copyright information

© Keith Cash 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Cash

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