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Dissolving the Moral Dilemma of Whistleblowing
KTH, Stockholm, Sweden.
2007 (English)In: Journal of Business Ethics, ISSN 0167-4544, E-ISSN 1573-0697, Vol. 76, no 4, 413-426 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ethical debate on whistleblowing concerns centrally the conflict between the right to political free speech and the duty of loyalty to the organization where one works. This is the moral dilemma of whistleblowing.  Political free speech is justified because it is a central part of liberal democracy, whereas loyalty can be motivated as a way of showing consideration for one’s associates. The political philosophy of John Rawls is applied to this dilemma, and it is shown that that the requirement of loyalty, in the sense that is needed to create the moral dilemma of whistleblowing, is inconsistent with that theory. In this sense, there is no moral dilemma of whistleblowing. This position has been labeled extreme in that it says that whistleblowing is always morally permitted. In a discussion and rejection of Richard De George’s criteria on permissible whistleblowing, it is pointed out that the mere rejection of loyalty will not lead to an extreme position; harms can still be taken into account. Furthermore, it is argued that the best way is, in this as in most other political circumstances, to weigh harms is provided by the free speech argument from democracy.


Keywords: Free Speech, Justice as Fairness, Loyalty, Permission for Whistleblowing, Whistleblowing

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2007. Vol. 76, no 4, 413-426 p.
Keyword [en]
free speech, justice as fairness, loyalty, permission for whistleblowing
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-85888DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-9291-2OAI: diva2:696049
Available from: 2014-02-12 Created: 2014-02-12 Last updated: 2014-02-20Bibliographically approved

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Lindblom, Lars
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