Ethic’sis the study of right and wrong. It is an enormous philosophical subjectranging from an exercise in deciding how individuals should act towards eachother to how they should act in certain dilemmas. Ethics is about howindividuals seek to justify their action. (reference) Ethicsplay a vital role in social workers in making decisions that will benefitstheir clients and prevent them from that which may be harmful to those in theircare.
(reference)Social workers are routinelyfaced with ethical dilemmas in practice, therefore they are expected to gainknowledge of ethics and ethical decision-making necessary for resolution ofdilemmas. Thisessay will explore and analysis the ethical dilemmas in Harmony’s case(Appendix 1), by using the social work theoretical ethical framework which willenable them to resolve the complexities arising from Harmony’s case. There aremany ethical theories, that help decision-making process, deontology andutilitarianism will be used for this case. The four ethical principles,developed by (Beauchamp & Childress 2008) willbe discuss ethical principles of respect for autonomy, nonmalefience, justiceand beneficence. In this essay respect for autonomy and beneficence will beused to explore the ethical dilemmas of patience. An ethical model will be usedto analyse the case study. As well as professional and personal values withinsocial work practice will help with the ethical decision-making process.Deontologyis the theory underpinning duty-based ethics was developed by Immanuel Kant(1724-1804).
Duty, said Kant, is doing a good action for no other reason thanthey know it is their duty. (reference)It is not easy to arrive at a moral judgement when the intention andthe outcome of an action appear in conflict. They may have a good intention tohelp someone across the road, but the outcome may be if the person is run overas a result. To clarify this, Kant sought a fixed rule that would apply toanyone in any situation; absolute moral law that as universal. To ensure itwould not be clouded by emotion, he based it power of reason, which he believedwas universal.
Since judgements about outcomes are difficult unless they canpredict the future accurately, Kant concentrated on a person’s intention.(reference)Accordingto (reference) Kant believed individuals shouldbe treated as an ‘end’ and not a means to an end. Therefore, individuals shouldbe valued and respected as an individual and not used for the benefit of otherindividuals and everyone should be treated equally. In thecase of the Harmony’s if the social worker were to use the deontologicalperspective to guide her decision-making it would be important to valueHarmony’s as an individual because the main focus of this theory is one mustalways treat those in one’s care with respect and dignity, and never treat themas mere means to an end. (reference). This goesperfectly with the British Association of social workers (BASW) code of ethics,the main key concepts are: Respect for human dignity; Value for every humanbeing, their beliefs and goals, preferences and needs; and Respects for humanrights and self-determination.
(BASW 2010)(reference) In the role of social worker there are manyduty obligations that are followed i.e. The HCPC (2017) regulatory standardsand laws such as the care Act (2015). Therefore, applying this theory, thesocial worker has a duty to respect and fulfil Harmony’s wishes, and her rightin the freedom in making her own choices such as, to have control of herPersonal Independent Payments (PIP) attend college and her choice not to beresuscitated. The bestway to achieve this is that the social worker should initiate a professional meetingwith Harmony and her family separately, (reference) states that running throughthe purpose of a professional meeting is essential for successfulcommunication. Anothertheory to be considered is utilitarianism, which is a teleological theory ofethics. It’s the opposite of deontological ethical theories that are based onmoral rules, on whether the action itself is right or wrong.
Thetheory of utilitarianism began with Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Bentham wastrying to work out how good or bad the consequence of an action would be.Bentham wanted to develop an ethical theory which established if something waspositive or negative according to its benefit for the majority of people, so hecalled this the principle of utility, this often expressed as ‘the greatestgood of the greatest number’. Which means the term ‘good’ is pleasure orhappiness- so an act is right or wrong according to the good or bad thatresults from the act.