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Keywords:

  • ideology;
  • liberalism;
  • nursing knowledge;
  • nursing science;
  • political

The influence of liberal political ideology on nursing science

Previous notions of science as impartial and value-neutral have been refuted by contemporary views of science as influenced by social, political and ideological values. By locating nursing science in the dominant political ideology of liberalism, the author examines how nursing knowledge is influenced by liberal philosophical assumptions. The central tenets of liberal political philosophy — individualism, egalitarianism, freedom, tolerance, neutrality, and a free-market economy — are primarily manifested in relation to: (i) the individualistic focus of our science; (ii) our view of society as essentially egalitarian and equitable; (iii) our preference for politically neutral knowledge development, and (iv) an economy of knowledge development that supports rather than challenges the status quo. I argue that exposing, rather than ignoring, the liberal ideological values inherent in nursing science will render these assumptions open to debate, stimulate ongoing development of critically oriented knowledge, and increase our capacity to influence the social, political and economic determinants of health.