This paper is a preliminary exploration of social welfare practitioners’ accounts of ‘ethically difficult situations’. It describes variations in the ethical vocabulary and form of these accounts. Analysis of practitioners’ own accounts (as opposed to ‘textbook’ cases) draws attention to the ways they construct events, actions and qualities of character as ethically significant and highlights the qualitative distinctiveness of ethical dilemmas, where seemingly irresolvable choices leave a residue of moral loss, regret or guilt. \u
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