Eye on Ethics: Social Work's Moral Soul - The Challenge of Faustian Bargins

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


For decades, social workers have discussed—and debated—whether the profession has strayed from its ideological and moral roots. Critics such as Harry Specht and Mark Courtney, in their challenging book Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work Has Abandoned Its Mission, argue that social work has lost its soul, as evidenced by the large number of practitioners who train for and engage in private clinical practice that sometimes excludes low-income people. Others, in contrast, argue that social work’s tent is, and should be, very large, and that it is reasonable for social workers to assist all of society, which for some practitioners may focus on those who are relatively affluent and do not struggle economically.