Saturday, 28 April 2012

Kantian Child Protection?

An interesting blog entry caught my eye. Louise O’Neill, a child protection social worker, writes in the Guardian Social Care Network blog about how she draws on her knowledge of philosophy to inform her child protection practice. 

Most social workers would, I think, find talk of Kant’s categorical imperative a bit obscure, but I think many would agree with Louise’s conclusion that people – whether they be children or parents - should always be treated as ends in themselves, not as means to some other ends.

And I expect that most social workers would share her concern that a social work culture, dominated by tight timescales and a focus on meeting targets, is incompatible with treating parents and children as unique moral individuals and trying to understand their complex problems, needs and experiences.

Interestingly the implications of Kantian “moral law” seem to me to be rather similar to the recommendations of the Munro Review, which, in contrast, draws not on philosophy, but on individual and organisational psychology, a human factors perspective and sound commonsense.