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Whistle Blowing: What Do Contemporary Ethical Theories Say?

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.

Open access
Whistle-blowing and the employment relations implications of the ‘Protected Disclosures Act 2014’ in the Republic of Ireland

Abstract

This article explores the introduction of the 2014 Protected Disclosures Act in the Republic of Ireland. It does so by using a justice theory lens to examine the potential for the Act to protect workers who may feel the need to blow the whistle on employer wrongdoings. Data is collected from public records and documents, along with interviews with senior representatives from ‘all’ the social partner agents involved in drafting or contributing to the Act. The evidence suggests that the Act may have limited utility in ensuring fairness and justice for the whistle-blower. In particular, employers appear reluctant to embrace the idea of more legal protections, while cultural stigmas attached to the idea of ‘blowing the whistle’ may inhibit people coming forward. The article contributes to justice theory and employment regulation, as well as whistle-blowing practices, and some recommendations are suggested to improve awareness of whistle-blowing rights for workers.

Open access