• nursing theory;
  • paradigm;
  • metaparadigm concepts;
  • caring;
  • models for nursing;
  • conceptual frameworks;
  • theoretical models;
  • philosophy of nursing

Theoretical advances in nursing have been complicated by polarization and extreme positions regarding nursing’s approach to its main metaparadigm concepts: person, health, environment and nursing. In this paper, the authors deconstruct some of the central arguments that are used to further this polarization. Using a critical interpretive approach, they explain some of the logical implications imposed by various extreme positions for the larger project of nursing’s health and social mandate, and consider the effects of such polarization. On the basis of an appreciation of the serious difficulties inherent in certain philosophical and theoretical positions currently evident within nursing’s literature, the authors argue for a less extreme and more integrated reference point for nursing’s theory and practice.