Rethinking Moral Reasoning Theory
Article first published online: 2 OCT 2007
Image: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship
Volume 21, Issue 3, pages 172–175, September 1989
How to Cite
Nokes, K. M. (1989), Rethinking Moral Reasoning Theory. Image: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 21: 172–175. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.1989.tb00126.x
- Issue published online: 2 OCT 2007
- Article first published online: 2 OCT 2007
- Accepted for publication March 17, 1989.
Many nursing studies on moral reasoning and ethics have used Kohlberg's theory of moral development. The body of knowledge that resulted from these studies indicated that nurses and nursing students had consistently lower than expected levels of moral reasoning. Educational offerings were developed to assist nurses to improve their moral reasoning. This article explores the cognitive-developmental theory of moral development as one way of determining the moral development of nurses. Since this theory of moral reasoning focuses on the rational thought of the individual and does not consider the impact of the environment, it is of limited applicability in nursing. A new theory of morality needs to be developed—a more holistic one that will include both universal principles and contextual issues.