Whistle Blowing: What Do Contemporary Ethical Theories Say?

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Abstract

The rising number of scandals leading to the closure of many large companies is worrisome. The traditional belief is that business and ethics are oxymorons and one is not expected to be totally virtuous during business operations. Nonetheless, this does not mean ethical standards should be side-lined. Professional associations such as the Chartered Financial Institute (CFA) uphold moral values and urge members to exercise high moral standards and diligence in their duties. Philosophically, major accounting scandals could have been nipped in the bud by whistle blowing before the wrong deeds escalated. However whistle blowing is a major issue and is viewed as disloyalty. In this paper, the dilemmas of whistle blowing are evaluated using contemporary ethical theories which are: egoism, deontology and utilitarianism. The analysis shows that deontology and utilitarianism are based on altruism and may support whistle blowing because they are grounded on consideration of other people. It is worth noting that morally upright adults are often a result of being brought up as ethical children from a psychological standpoint.

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