Commentary on Alan Gewirth's "Confidentiality in Child-Welfare Practice"

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


In recent years, social workers have become increasingly aware of ethical dilemmas in practice. Beginning especially in the mid-to-late 1970s, social work's literature has included a steady stream of reflections on difficult moral choices involving conflicts among professional duties and obligations (Loewnberg and Dolgoff 1996; Congress 1998; Reamer 1998, 1999). To what extent do clients have the right to engage in self-harming behavior without interference? How should social workers allocate scarce or limited resources such as emergency services, shelter beds, funds, and even their own time? Is it ethically permissible for social workers to violate laws and regulations they believe to be unjust?