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Philosophical Thought and Its Levels in Nursing


In medicine, as well as in general philosophy, there are different levels of philosophical thought. Without structure, understanding, and comprehension of various philosophical thoughts would be extremely limited. In this brief summary, we shall go over the four levels of philosophical thought, which are Metaparadigms, Conceptual Models, Theories, and Empirical indicators.

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Metaparadigm is the largest and the most general circle of philosophical thought (“Metaparadigm concepts,” n.d.). It is used to structurize and organize the phenomena in any discipline. In nursing philosophy, there are four metaparadigms that are covered by every researcher in nursing theory. These metaparadigms, as identified by Fawcett, Desanto-Madeya, and Susan (2014), are Human beings, Environment, Health, and Nursing.

Conceptual Models

Conceptual models are not as general as metaparadigms and are capable of providing a distinct frame or reference to particular research. They provide answers to relevant questions and offer practical solutions to specific problems. In addition, they may put an emphasis on some metaparadigms over others (“Conceptual model,” n.d.).


Theories include the applications of conceptual models in order to outline narrow and specific concepts that can be derived from the conceptual model. Depending on the nature of the concept, different theories may be involved in nursing research (Fawcett et al., 2014).

Empirical Indicators

Empirical indicators are the most narrowed-down forms of knowledge and information, which form the 4th level of philosophical thought. They include quantitative and qualitative data, specific factors, diseases, and actions that could influence and measure a particular theoretic concept. Empirical indicators are commonly referred to as “Data” (Fawcett et al., 2014).


Conceptual model. (n.d.). Web.

Fawcett, J., Desanto-Madeya, S., & Susan, F. J. D.-M. (2014). Contemporary nursing knowledge: Analysis and evaluation of nursing models and theories (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

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Metaparadigm concepts. (n.d.). Web.

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