Podcast episode 4: ethics and morality in a postmodern world

podcts whit text psdA conversation with social work researcher, Dr Sacha Kendall

Dr Sacha Kendall began her social work career in acute mental health. She is now a qualitative health researcher. Her research investigates the social, cultural and ethical aspects of health, with a focus on marginalised populations. She is passionate about promoting qualitative approaches to understanding health and addressing health inequity.

Sacha contributed a chapter to a book I reviewed last year- Rethinking Values and Ethics in Social Work. In her chapter, she wrote about postmodern ethics for practice, drawing on the work of Zygmunt Bauman.

In our conversation, we mulled over some big questions.

  • What is the difference between morality and ethics?
  • How can social workers honour commitments to social justice?
  • Is professionalism grounded in ethics technical competence?
  • Are social workers experts in managing uncertainty?
  • How do we handle our moral responsibility for the Other, particularly in circumstances where the Other is a person with impaired competence as a result of severe mental illness?
  • And in the sphere of health and social science research- has research ethics delivered on its promises?
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2 Responses to Podcast episode 4: ethics and morality in a postmodern world

  1. vittorio1 says:

    Just listened to the podcast no. 4 about ethics and morality. In this you discussed the concept of the innate value of all humans and that all humans are equally valuable. As discussed this can be tricky to apply due to dilemmas created between the right to self determination and preservation of life.
    I also find a clash when faced by the preservation and equity of all human life and environmental values I also hold. There are scientific papers indicating that many natural systems that are essential to all life forms are being pushed to breaking point. Climate change is one, but others include the nitrogen cycle, decline of arable land, the loss of biodiversity and extinction rates are other signals. On one hand the application of equality would mean all humans alive should be able to enjoy the standard of living average people in Australia have. However on the other hand if all people in the world consumed as we do in Australia, the resources of the world would be all used up in about 4 months, leaving nothing for any other life forms or future generations.

    I feel a pain in my heart when I travel into the rural hinterland around the city I live in. It feels like a new section of bushland has been turned into housing developments every time. I feel sad for the plants that were bulldozed and the increase of CO2 but also the animals. The kangaroos and wombats can run away from the clearing but where to? Animals inhabit a landscape based on the land’s capacity to support them. Carrying capacity does not suddenly increase in the left over bits of land just because there are more animals that are refugees to it.

    I don’t want to say people can’t have a house to live in so the answer I end up with is population control which has it’s own ethical quagmires. Should we (in Australia it’s usually the government representing the interests of the collective) not allow people from other countries to come? What if they are stateless or fleeing persecution – can we say those people are allowed to come but economic immigrants (like skilled migrants) should not be allowed? Should the collective be able to tell the individual they can’t have more than one child? How do we choose between a species and the rights of an individual human being. For example Should indigenous people be able to continue the tradition of killing sea turtles when the turtles are endangered. It isn’t indigenous practices in and of themselves that put the turtles in this state, but collisions with motor boats, having their eggs raided by feral pigs and dogs, climate change and dynamite fishing distroying the turtles’ habitat.
    I don’t think there are any easy answers to these sorts of questions but it would be good to have a proper discussion that goes beyond flip statements like ‘technology will solve it’ or denial like our government is doing.

    Kind regards

    Sylvia Ramsay

  2. vittorio1 says:

    Thanks Sylvia
    I pasted your comment on this page – as it was connected to podcast episode 4.
    I share your concerns about climate change and its effects on humans, flora and fauna.
    Our local and global responsibilities around this are deep moral and ethical issues that I plan to cover in detail in future podcasts.

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