The good, the bad and the ‘not so bad’: reflecting on moral appraisal in practice


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Abstract

BEGLEY AM. Nursing Inquiry 2011; 18: 21–28 The good, the bad and the ‘not so bad’: reflecting on moral appraisal in practiceThe aim of this study is to facilitate reflection on the moral merit of practitioners in various contexts. Insight is gained from Aristotelian and Kantian accounts of moral character and an original framework for reflection is presented as an adjunct to ethical theory and principles considered when appraising others. In relation to states of character, there is an irreconcilable difference between Kantian (deontic) and Aristotelian (aretaic) conceptions of the nature of full virtue (excellence of character), but at the same time it can be argued that in relation to practice their approaches complement each other. It is also argued that in relation to caring for the vulnerable, Aristotle's conception of full virtue is more compelling than Kant's. On the other hand, Kant's notion of self-serving action is important in nursing and it therefore needs to be considered when reflecting on professional conduct. The conclusion reached is that Aristotelian and Kantian accounts of character appraisal should be used in a combined approach to moral appraisal. This approach draws on the accounts of both philosophers and offers valuable insight into moral character, professional conduct and, in a more formal setting, fitness to practise.

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