The virtues in the moral education of nurses: Florence Nightingale revisited

Nurs Ethics. 1997 Jan;4(1):3-11. doi: 10.1177/096973309700400102.


The virtues have been a neglected aspect of morality; only recently has reference been made to their place in professional ethics. Unfashionable as Florence Nightingale is, it is nonetheless worth noting that she was instrumental in continuing the Aristotelian tradition of being concerned with the moral character of persons. Nurses who came under Nightingale's sphere of influence were expected to develop certain exemplary habits of behaviour. A corollary can be drawn with the current UK professional body: nurses are expected to behave in certain ways and to display particular kinds of disposition. The difference lies in the fact that, while Nightingale was clear about the need for moral education, current emphasis is placed on ethical theory and ethical decision-making.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Education, Nursing / history*
  • England
  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics, Nursing* / history
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Moral Development
  • Morals*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Virtues*

Personal name as subject

  • F Nightingale