Debates within nursing can take the form of useful discussion and critique or verbal conflict generated from inflexible paradigm positions intolerant of differing stances perceived to be of no value. It is suggested that the most profitable process is debate that generates understanding of the strengths and limitations of various tools and techniques and helps identify suitable usage rather than uncritical advocacy or outright rejection. Suggested uses will thus themselves become subject to further debate and practitioners will be encouraged to adopt a use that suits their practice setting and role. The quantitative-qualitative research debate, criticisms of the nursing process and nursing models and reflective practice are examined. Dogmatic positions are highlighted and uses that are potentially controversial are identified.