Eye on Ethics: Hobson's Choices in Social Work Ethics - The Illusion of Options

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


When faced with difficult ethical decisions, social workers sometimes identify what appear to be several reasonable options and must decide among them. In other instances, social workers have only one choice, the moral equivalent of Hobson’s choice. Put differently, social workers must be mindful of the important distinction between what they may believe is the right thing to do in the midst of an ethical dilemma and what they have a right to do.