Nursing Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of the nature of reality and existence (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Philosophy allows human beings to understand what is possible to know, including what is considered right or wrong, or what beliefs we may have about the world we live in.

In the discipline of nursing we have our own unique philosophy; we can refer to this as our philosophy of nursing science, or nursology. While there are many different areas of philosophical inquiry, nursing philosophy has been focused on two: ontology and epistemology.


The study of the nature of being according to the substantive focus in a discipline (Reed, 2018). In nursing, ontology is composed of the metaparadigm and ontological worldviews. Click here to learn more about nursing ontology.


The study of the nature of knowledge and truth, and is focused on what is considered justified knowledge (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2020). In nursing, epistemology is composed of epistemological perspectives, or Isms, and patterns of knowing. Click here to learn more about nursing epistemology.

Philosophy Gallery

Philosophy Author Gallery

Directory of Nursing Philosophy Scholars:

Carper, Barbara – Fundamental Pattern’s of Knowing in Nursing

Chinn, Peggy L. and Kramer, Maeona – Knowledge Development in Nursing

Kagan, Paula; Smith, Marlaine & Chinn, Peggy L. – Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis

Fawcett, Jacqueline – The Nursing Metaparadigm and Ontological Worldviews

Littzen, Chloe O. R, Langley, Carrie, and Grant, Consuelo – The Prismatic Mid-Paradigm.

Munhall, Patricia – Unknowing

Newman, Margaret – Ontological Worldviews

Parse, Rosemarie Rizzo – Ontological Worldviews

Reed, Pamela – Intermodernism: The Philosophy of Nursing Science and Practice

Terry, Heidi – Epistemological Perspectives and Ontological Worldviews

White, Jill – Sociopolitical Knowing

To submit your original philosophical work that we have not yet included here, please follow these instructions here.


Cambridge University Press. (2020). Philosophy. Retrieved from

Reed, P. G. (1995). A treatise on nursing knowledge development for the 21st century: Beyond postmodernism. Advances in Nursing Science, 17(3), 70-84.

Reed, P. G., & Shearer, N. B. C. (2018). Nursing knowledge and theory innovation: Advancing the science of practice (2nd ed). Springer Publishing Company.

Reed, P. G. (2019). Intermodernism: A philosophical perspective for the development of scientific nursing theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 42(1), 17-27.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2020). Epistemology. Retrieved from

Page updated August 24th, 2020