Ethos: The heart of ethics and health

Lillemor Östman, Yvonne Näsman, Katie Eriksson, Lisbet Nyström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)



Ethics in nursing care are traditionally discussed in terms of moral norms or principles. When taking an ontological approach to ethics, ethics is about ethos. Ethos involves both an internal and an external side of ethics. Considering ethics and health from an ontological perspective can provide a different understanding of ethics and health in caring and nursing.

Aim and research question:

The aim of this study is to deepen the ontological understanding of ethics and health in caring and nursing. The research question is as follows: What is the ontology of health and ethics in caring and nursing?

Research design:

The study follows a hermeneutical design inspired by Gadamer. Participants and research context: essays about ethics and health were gathered from PhD students in nursing and caring sciences.

Ethical considerations:

The research follows Responsible conduct of research guidelines provided by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity.


An ethos with the values of freedom and responsibility seem to ontologically be important for ethics and health. These values allow a movement between the internal and the external sides of ethics that is important for health.


The ethos of freedom and responsibility that is essential for ethics and health can provide the current ethical debate a new starting point that previous research asks for.


Ontologically, an ethos of freedom and responsibility is essential for ethics and health in nursing and caring.

Keywords Ethics of care/care ethics, ethos, health, hermeneutics, ontology, theory/philosophical perspectives
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalNursing Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Cite this