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Ethical dilemmas and decision making processes - Essay Example

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Ethical dilemmas and decision making processes

A combination of these two can not only decrease the ease with which social workers may come to a decision in crisis situations that require delicate handling but also provide us with a richer understanding of the stakes involved in this profession and encourage us to constantly reflect upon our own dispositions and actions, thus ensuring greater ethicality in our practise and leaving open the possibility of constant dialogue and support. In this light, I will move on to examine the vignette provided and attempt to analyse it in relation to the various ethical frame-works and directives for social values that are available in the field of social service. I will also try to point out, staying within the scope of this essay, the critiques of the various theories that I elaborate on as well as my own take on some of the issues discussed.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that inquires into the normative and moral evaluation of human actions. Normative ethical systems have been classified into three categories: deontological, teleological and virtue ethics. Let us look at these three systems of ethics in some detail.
Immanuel Kant put forth the rational principle of 'categorical imperative' of which the following two formulations are extremely well-known and captures his idea brilliantly: "Always act in such a way that you can also will that the maxim of your action should become a universal law", "Act so that you treat humanity, both in your own person and in that of another, always as an end and never merely as a means". Kant's ideology follows a model of deontological or duty-based ethics. Deontological systems focus upon adhering to independent morals or values in our actions to enable us to do our duties correctly and asserts that the ability to follow one's duty is the right way to conduct ourselves and that these moral rights are to be determined objectively and absolutely, not subjectively. While there is an emphasis on 'correct motivations', they alone form no substantive basis on which actions can be legitimized. Instead, an adherence to the correct moral duties is what stands prioritized. Such a model is problematic in two fundamental ways. One, by insisting that following one's moral duty can ensure adherence to correct moral choices is problematic in that it is a top-to-down model. Here the focus is not on the ability of a person to critically reflect on the particularity of a situation and choices at hand and determine a response with regard to teleology, but to say that a general adherence to one's duties will take care of the moral correctness of the choice made. One may even say that in such a case, there is no question of making a choice since there is no room for dilemma in the first place. Such a position is fatal to the essential use of criticality to determine what should be the response to a particular difficulty at hand. Second, when it is ascertained that the correct moral value has been adopted and the correct moral duty followed, the consequence, however unpleasant, is not deemed wrong; moral principles and the consequences they engender stand in an irresolvable divorce. Further, a deontological viewpoint does not validate actions that are can be regarded as immoral when they are solely based on a subjective perception. ...Show more


In this paper I will attempt to briefly describe various ethical frame-works that are currently used to evaluate and critically engage with the relevance and urgency of values in social work. I believe it is important to do so because it helps us understand, grapple with and clearly articulate the complexities and contestations involved in values in social work thus helping to build shared meaning and provide alternate explanatory frameworks to aid analysis of ethical dilemmas…
Author : jlegros
Ethical dilemmas and decision making processes essay example
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