It is claimed that philosophy has a distinctive contribution to make to the education of nurses and their teachers, as well as to the development of nursing theory and research. After a brief characterization of philosophy and philosophy of education, stressing its relationship with thinking processes, and the development of personal values, the above claim is supported in the body of the article by discussion of four central concerns in nursing. First the concept of caring where cognitive, moral and attitudinal aspects are examined and secondly, the importance of gaining a moral and political consciousness of assumptions underlying a nurse's work. Thirdly, a discussion of some ethical and other implications in adopting a systems approach to the nursing process. Finally an analysis of nursing theory and research which draws attention to the value of non-empirical work, and reiterates criticisms of the objectives approach as a research tool.