Description of Søren Kierkegaard’s Work
Referred to as the “father of existentialism”, Søren Kierkegaard’s (1813-1855) philosophically insightful and penetrating work not only focused on the social critique of the 19th-century culture and Christian faith within the state church but also on dealing with spheres of life (aesthetic, ethical and religious) through attacking what he perceived to be both the excessive aestheticism of Romanticism and the Hegelian over-systematization of reality (Martel, 2005).
Major Ethical Theory Developed by Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard has been credited for conceptualizing the “teleological suspension of the ethical”, which basically refers to an ultimate abandonment of normal religious beliefs by an individual in favour of absolute and unquestioning faith in God’s will (Williams, 2004). Owing to the fact that teleology is the belief in and study of “final causes”, Kierkegaard’s theory presupposes that moral individuals must not be bound by social norms alone but rather by actively recognizing duties to a power higher than the social norms (Martel, 2005).
Nursing & Health care Practices supporting the Theory
It can be argued that some of the nursing and health care practices that this theory supports include:
- Provision of spiritual or compassionate care in hospital settings to serve the whole individual in all aspects, including “the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual” (Pochalski, 2001 p. 352).
- Assisting patients to find meaning and acceptance of their own suffering in the context of terminal illnesses by affirming God’s will in whatever is happening to the patients, hence achieving spiritual healing (Pochalski, 2001).
- In practice settings, medical ethicists and practitioners stress that “religion and spirituality form the basis of meaning and purpose for many people” (Pochalski, 2001 p. 353).
Nursing & Healthcare Practices contradicting the Theory
Contemporary technological-based and cure-oriented models of treatment contradict this theory by virtue of the fact that they emphasize evidence and technology at the expense of absolute duty to God (Pochalski, 2001). Other nursing and healthcare practices that seem to contradict the ethical theory include resuscitation, euthanasia, and compulsory treatment of patients (Butters, 2008).
Sections of ANA Code of Ethics Supported by the Ethical Theory
These sections include:
- Section 1.1 of Provision 1, requires nurses to demonstrate respect for human dignity, particularly in the context of inherent worth, compassion, self-respect, and human rights of every person (The American Nurses Association, Inc., 2001).
- Section 6.1 of Provision 6, requires nurses to do what is right and to internalize habits of character (e.g., compassion, patience and skill) that predispose them to do a particular activity well, with the view to enhancing the values of human dignity, well-being, respect and health (The American Nurses Association, Inc., 2001).
Pochalski, C.M. (2001). The role of spirituality in health care. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 14(4), 352-357.
The American Nursing Association, Inc. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Web.
Williams, M. (2004). Kant and Kierkegaard on faith: In service to morality and a leap of the absurd.