On to the ‘rough ground’: introducing doctoral students to philosophical perspectives on knowledge

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Abstract

Doctoral programmes in nursing are charged with developing the next generation of nurse scholars, scientists, and healthcare leaders. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorses the inclusion of philosophy of science content in research-focused doctoral programmes. Because a philosophy course circumscribed to the natural or social sciences does not address the broad forms of knowledge that are relevant to nursing practice, we have developed and co-taught a course on the philosophy of knowledge that introduces students to competing claims regarding the nature of knowledge, truth, and rationality. In addressing broad themes related to science and knowledge of the body, health and illness, and ethics, the course equips students to tread the rough and shifting ground of nursing scholarship and practice. Providing doctoral students with this philosophical footing is intended to give future scholars, researchers, and healthcare leaders the intellectual skills to critically reflect on knowledge claims, to challenge the hegemony of science, and to recognize the disciplinary forms of knowledge that are left out or trivialized. Our pedagogical approach to knowledge development does not denigrate scientific knowledge, but elevates forms of inquiry and notions of clinical knowledge that are too often marginalized in doctoral education and the academy in general.

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