In this paper, the authors address the serious neglect of the 'classical' virtues in ethical reflection upon mental health nursing. The virtues are offered as a possible alternative paradigm for mental health nursing in its search for new models and approaches. Embodied in the notion of a moral community, the virtues have important implications in addressing problems adherent in various 'dualisms' so described. By invoking the concepts of practical wisdom and praxis, the interrelationship between theory and practice, action and reflection and self and community, is shown. The contextual nature of the virtues is shown in a number of examples and their potential for the transformation of practice is shown. The opportunity is now present for mental health nursing to strengthen its basis for practice by distancing itself from scientific models. In so doing, it can embrace an approach which is consensual and contextual and which places ethical reflection at the centre of practice.
- Practical wisdom