• Kant;
  • Orem;
  • philosophical;
  • research;
  • theoretical

Gullifer J. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 153–158

The acceptance of a philosphically based research culture

This paper addresses a trend that emerged at a nursing research conference held in New South Wales during 1996. The trend was a downplaying of the relevance of philosophical and theoretical bases for research in nursing. Such a trend would not be of concern if all research aimed to merely generate local, non-generalizable conclusions and recommendations. However, research that aims to develop knowledge that can provide relevant knowledge on a broader, or universal scale, needs to be based on coherent and relevant philosophical and/or theoretical foundations. To adequately critique such research it should ideally be linked to a philosophy or theory that situates it in both historical and intellectual loci and consequently, the raison d’etre for the research should arise. This paper begins with an exploration of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and proceeds to a discussion on the philosophical underpinnings of Dorothea Orem. It is intended that such discussion will assist the clinician to see the relevance that philosophy has to clinically based research in nursing and, importantly, the critique of such research. In conclusion, two possible reasons are suggested as to why philosophy and theory in nursing research may appear to be increasingly frowned upon. It is hoped that a greater understanding of the power of philosophically based research will contribute to an increased enthusiasm and uptake of philosophically based research projects by nurses.