Conceptualising moral resilience for nursing practice

Sala Defilippis, Tiziana M. L., Curtis, Katherine and Gallagher, Ann (2019) Conceptualising moral resilience for nursing practice. Nursing Inquiry, 26(3), e12291. ISSN (print) 1320-7881


The term 'moral resilience' has been gaining momentum in the nursing ethics literature. This may be due to it representing a potential response to moral problems such as moral distress. Moral resilience has been conceptualised as a factor that inhibits immoral actions, as a favourable outcome and as an ability to bounce back after a morally distressing situation. In this article, the philosophical analysis of moral resilience is developed by challenging these conceptualisations and highlighting the risks of such limiting perspectives. It is argued that moral resilience is best understood as a virtue with two associated vices, faintheartedness and rigidity. The intellectual virtue of practical wisdom is required to express resilience as a virtue. This understanding leads to recommendations for professional education, for practice and for further research.

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