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American Nurses Association (ANA, 2015) Code of Ethics for Nurses

For many nurses, the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2015) Code of Ethics for Nurses is the single most useful document to consult when dealing with ethical problems in nursing practice. The Code offers standards for ethical behavior but does not provide the theoretical underpinnings of those standards. Discussion questions (links to objectives #1, #2).

  1. In preparation for this discussion, please identify one of the nine tenets in the Code that is not clear or that you find difficult to support in your practice setting. After review the accompanying interpretive statements in the text, analyze the ways in which the tenet reflects the ethical theories (deontology and teleology) you reviewed in week one.
    Please include the following:
    • Identify the tenet you have selected and why you find it unclear or difficult to support in your practice.
    • Give an example of how the tenet might be applied in your practice setting.
    • Explain the ways in which the tenet is supported by any or all of the theories you reviewed in week one.
    • Explain how the tenet is compatible with any of the ethical theories.
    • Explain why, in light of these theories, the meaning or usefulness of the tenet may be more apparent to you now. Alternatively, does it still seem congruent with your practice?

Sample Solution

Claudius' speech is an unexpected, revealing moment and may tug at the heartstrings of the audience. But while the king may have the audience's sympathy for a brief period, he squanders it when he orders Hamlet's death. Claudius is now set on perpetrating the same crime he did earlier, but this time with no sign of remorse. Instead, he privately hopes the King of England will remove the one obstacle to personal happiness: "For like the hectic in my blood he rages, / And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done, / Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin" (IV, iii, 65-67). One wonders if these were the types of the thoughts that entered Claudius' mind before he killed Old Hamlet. To suggest that he could not be happy unless Hamlet is dead reveals Claudius has given up any hope of redemption. Claudius has other options, like imprisoning Hamlet - after all, he did kill Polonius - but the king fears that putting "the strong law on [Hamlet]" (IV, iii, 3) may incite a riot. He also could have sent Hamlet into exile without killing him. While Hamlet is "loved of the distracted multitude" (IV, iii, 4) the grave keeper believes the lie that Hamlet was sent to England to "recover his wits" (V, i, 142). But Claudius is most concerned about his own safety, not with meting out just punishment. For this selfish reason, Claudius quickly devises a new scheme to kill Hamlet when he returns to Denmark. This premeditated attempt suggests how Claudius has changed from a man who begged forgiveness in vain to one who considers murder the only option: […] I will work him To an exploit, now ripe in my device, Under the which he shall not choose but fall: And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe, But even his mother shall uncharge the practice And call it accident. (IV, vii, 61-66). At this point, Claudius is committed to killing Hamlet - and the audience will treat him like Hamlet has from the beginning: the "smiling damned villain" (I, v, 105). King Claudius at the end of Hamlet has lost everything. Fortinbras, the new ruler of Denmark, does not even acknowledge the former king, but gives Hamlet the warrior's funeral (V, ii, 381). But the audience doesn't feel sorry for Claudius; they feel satisfied the villain has been defeated. But while Claudius was a selfish, cunning man, Shakespeare wrote him as a complicated, "gray" character, one neither completely good nor evil. This characteristic makes Claudius a fascinating character to watch and offers a unique case study on how a man who makes evil decisions can lose himself in the process. Claudius' downfall is a warning to those who seek to commit foul and unnatural deeds.
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