1st Edition

Nursing Ethics, 1880s to the Present An Archaeology of Lost Wisdom and Identity

By Marsha Fowler Copyright 2024
    424 Pages
    by Routledge

    424 Pages
    by Routledge

    This important text draws on decades of research, arguing that modern nursing germinated and grew an ethics from its own native soil, which is rich, fulsome, and philosophically informed, grounded in the tradition and practice of nursing.

    It is an ethics with a positive agenda for the good nurse, a good society, a healthy people, and human flourishing. This native nursing ethics was forgotten, creating space for a foreign bioethics’ colonization of nursing in the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing from a wide range of sources from the USA, the UK, Canada, and Ireland, the book addresses the early and enduring ethical concerns, values, and ideals of nursing as a profession that engages in direct clinical practice and in developing policy. Fowler calls for reclaiming and renewing nursing’s ethical tradition.

    This systematic and comprehensive book is an essential contribution for students and scholars of nursing ethics.

    Introduction.  1. Education in Nursing Ethics: Sturdy Standards.  Appendix I: 1915 NLN Ethics Requirements Supporting Textbooks for Faculty.  2. An Archeology of the Nursing Ethics Literature: Digging Up Textbooks.  Appendix II: Full Working List of Early Works on Nursing Ethics and Ethics in Nursing, 19001960s, Listed Chronologically by First Edition.  3. The Nursing Ethics Literature: More to Read.  4. Nursing Ethics as Social Ethics: Moral Courage on the March.  Appendix III: Author’s Note and 1909 ICN Speeches by Albinia Broderick, Lavinia Dock, and Mary Burr. 5. An Unauthorized Biography of Bioethics: Its Social Context.  6. Nursing’s Nescient Embrace of a Nascent Bioethics.  Appendix IV: Legal Cases That Contributed to US Medio-Moral Law.  7. Nursing Ethics in the United Kingdom: 1888 to 1960s (with a Nod to Canada).  8. Nursing Ethics before Bioethics: Prologue to the Future.  9. Studying Expert Ethical Comportment and Preserving the Ethics of Care and Responsibility Embedded in Expert Nursing Practice by Patricia Benner.  10. A Closet Full of Ethics for Seasonal Wear.  11. Voices and Vignettes.  Afterword.


    Marsha Fowler is Emerita Professor of Ethics. She holds the honorific “Code Scholar and Historian” for her foundational and ongoing work on the Code of Ethics for Nurses (American Nurses Association). She was also a consultant for the most recent International Council of Nursing Code of Ethics for Nursing (2021).

    A thorough and fascinating account of the evolution of nursing ethics. Fowler interweaves real-life stories about the people who shaped the early foundation of the discipline, with her sharp-witted analysis of how their wisdom can inform today's nursing practice. This book provides an inspiring story of how nursing ethics emerged, distinct from bioethics, and why this matters in our quest to provide humane, compassionate care for those we serve.

    Peggy L. Chinn, RN, PhD, DSc(Hon), FAAN

    Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut

    Editor Emerita, Advances in Nursing Science


    In this innovative and engaging text, Marsha integrates disparate histories, previously disconnected, illuminating the rich and complex backdrop to the development of nursing ethics. These histories foreground nursing ethics as a social ethics and nurse leaders as trailblazers committed to remedying social injustice, the histories of exemplary women and of the value(s) of nursing. A recommended read for all interested in past, present, and future of care and nursing ethics.

    Professor Ann Gallagher PhD MA BA (Hons) PGCEA RMN SRN FRCN FAAN

    Head of Department of Health Sciences

    Brunel University London

    Editor-in-Chief, Nursing Ethics

    This impressive historical account of the birth of nursing ethics skillfully highlights and contrasts the education and evolution of nursing ethics before the emergence of bioethics. The voices and engaging vignettes are particularly compelling, making this book a valuable resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of role of ethics in nursing.

    Liz Stokes, PhD, JD, RN

    Director, Nursing Programs & Center for Ethics and Human Rights

    American Nurses Association

    Marsha Fowler’s treatise on the history of nursing ethics makes for a marvellous read. She guides her reader through an intricate and complex history of how nurses and those who write for and about them have wrestled with the ideas of fairness, equity, truth and virtue, critically reflecting on the history and evolution of thought from a perspective that is only accessible to a seasoned scholar with a wicked wit.

    Sally Thorne, RN, PhD, FAAN, FCAHS, FCAN, CM

    Professor, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Canada

    Editor, Nursing Inquiry