In our contemporary, everyday life we are faced with a number of ethics-related dilemmas each day (Singer 1993, 2004, 2009). Consider, for example, the myriad of product choices available in western cultures. Whether choosing from 12 different types of potatoes or selecting the best supplier for a service, it can be difficult to make choices about goods and services. Specifically, how much thought should go in to buying a product? Is it better to buy cruelty-free and organic? Should we buy food in glass containers which can be recycled or the cheaper, plastic version? Should we worry about giving our custom to companies whose ethics towards its employees are dubious? Should we buy products that have been tested on animals, subjecting them to suffering? Should we participate in meat eating or become vegetarian or vegan in order to help the environment and avoid species’ mass production, suffering and slaughter? Should we select locally grown and sourced food to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’? Such questions may have come up in your purchasing of products in everyday life. Broader questions about how to live include: should we care for others or look after ourselves? Should children have ‘rights’? Are social workers ever ‘off duty’? In this chapter we will begin to examine the relationship between our personal and emerging professional self regarding ethics. We consider how to make ethical decisions and what is required in order to justify such decisions. The chapter concludes with an examination of some of the ethical issues in organisations.
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