While the author would like to assume readers will ponder on every word of this book in great detail, the reality for most time-pressed nurses is that they will want to use it as a reference text to explore specific ideas at particular times, as they find necessary. Therefore, this book has been designed for use in different ways: as a textbook, a reference source, or as a concise guide and primer to scientific thinking and its application in nursing. The blend of art and science that makes up nursing is explored with the aim to emphasise the value of creative scientific thinking for practical nursing issues and understanding how to avoid the pitfalls of non-science, pseudoscience, and even bad science along the way. Even those already familiar with scientific epistemology may find some interesting arguments and challenges to their foundational beliefs. Although the book covers a wide range of philosophical approaches in nursing, it is not designed as a comprehensive philosophy text. Given the great volume of manuscripts devoted to this subject throughout the history of civilisation, it would be presumptuous to hope to do more than explore the fundamental concepts in a text of this nature. References to further readings and sources are given for the reader who wants to know more. Assume that you will encounter new ideas and terminology as you read, and you should expect the need to explore other sources.
Readers who want to quickly get to grips with such terms as ontology, dialectic, nominalism, hermeneutics or gnostic can find a quick reference in a glossary of key terms included at the end of the book and an extensive index. This text together with the references supplied, and excellent sources now available on the Internet, should enable the reader to understand the key concepts and arguments. In addition, a simple “Good Science Detection Guide” is included in the appendix to aid in the identification of the good, the bad, pseudoscience and non-science in healthcare writing and research. Summary ideas for critical discussion are also presented at the end of each chapter that may be helpful for those teaching this material. Finally, it is also acknowledged that any book exploring this subject cannot be value-free, and therefore, a particular perspective on philosophy and nursing is presented here that aligns with empiricism, and contemporary science, and one that I hope readers will find compelling.