Summary: Many of the profession are pursuing ways to develop and promote good and accountable practice. One of the most popular courses suggested is evidence-based practice. Locating our discussion within the context of neo-liberalism, we argue here that evidence-based practice has arisen not only in response to the ongoing desire to promote scientific practice, but also to increase social work’s ‘fit’ with the current context. Findings: We conclude that social work is an extremely complex set of activities and that evidence-based practice is too conceptually narrow and theoretically limited, particularly in its constrained capacity to take up many of the developments in social theory. Finally, we suggest that the conceptual objectives of evidence-based practice can be met by the integration of ethical reasoning in practice, which we suggest is a strategy of mature professionalism that can be more readily applied in the diverse contexts and forms of social work practice. Applications: The ethical intent (and indeed, the cognitive discipline) of evidence-based practice can equally be realized through deployment of ethical reasoning as a mode of good practice.