THE MORALITY OF SOCIAL WORK ETHICS: A PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY
NULMAN, EFREM M.
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The purpose of this study was to discover the universal nature of social work ethics. That is, in light of societal values, is a professional ethical system moral or is it ethically egocentric? This question necessitated an exploration into the logical foundation of the social work ethic, as it was developed by Dr. Charles S. Levy. The deontological or, as it was referred to here, functional framework was examined, and then juxtaposed with the philosophical theories of morality that were developed by W. D. Ross and H. A. Prichard. G. E. Moore's theory of ideal utilitarianism, with its teleological learnings was utilized in order to highlight an approach to ethics which considers the consequences of each act in relation to each actor in the ethical drama. Ross and Prichard however, were concerned with the particular relational obligations between parties. The latter ethical system is comparable to the functional approach in that it is primarily concerned with the "contract" and "promise" between social worker and client.;The philosophical inquiry which occurred in the dissertation consisted of three components: First, through an analysis of Levy's writings, the author sought to discover the basic premises which guide Levy in his work on ethics; second, an examination of the Ross/Prichard theory and G. E. Moore's theory; third, a juxtaposition of Levy's work with Ross and Prichard, in order to establish, what is called, a Functional Ethical Theory. To test the moral nature of the Functional Theory, a case was examined in accordance with that theory and Moore's theory.;The findings of this dissertation point to the logical fallacies which inhere in Moore's theory of ideal utilitarianism. Social work ethics appear to be ethical, or as ethical as any system of ethics could be, according to the logical base on which it is founded. Conflicts with other systems are inevitable and perhaps, necessary, but the functional approach is both logical and practical for purposes of social work ethics.