Believers and skeptics: Where social worker situate themselves regarding the code of ethics

Ethics and Behavior 19 (1):60 – 78 (2009)
Abstract
Based on individual and focus-group interviews, this article describes how social workers in a variety of settings and geographical areas within Ontario approached ethical issues in their daily practices. Two primary approaches to professional ethics emerge from the data: principle based and virtue based, reflecting the orientation of groups we label believers and skeptics, respectively. The code of ethics appears to be the fulcrum from which our participants swing. The believers show faith in the code of ethics and the skeptics are dubious that codes are necessarily in the best interests of clients. The article describes the thinking behind the actions of the believers and skeptics and explores possibilities for future practice and research with respect to decision-making regarding ethical issues in the social work profession.
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