Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing

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Whistle blowing

Whistle blowing is an attempt of an employee or former employee of a company to reveal what he or she believes to be a wrongdoing in or by a company or organization. Whistle blowing tries to make others aware of practices that are considered illegal or immoral. If the wrongdoing is reported to someone in the company it is said to be internal. Internal whistle blowing tends to do less damage to the company. There is also external whistle blowing. This is where the wrongdoing is reported to the media and brought to the attention of the public. This type of whistle blowing tends to affect the company in a negative way because of bad publicity. It is said that whistle blowing is personal if the wrongdoing affects the whistle blower alone (like sexual harassment), and said to be impersonal if the wrongdoing affects other people. Many people whistle blow for two main reasons: morality and revenge.
Morality is the biggest and best reason for this act because people generally want to do the good moral thing. If a person should have to blow the whistle on a company they should know that for every action there is a reaction, and the reaction of whistle blowing might lead to getting fired. One of the most controversial types of whistle blowing is that of impersonal. If a company is making products that are unsafe because they are trying to save a few dollars, an employee could see this as immoral and tell the public about it. The whistle blower would do this based on Kant's theory. It would be following the moral law to do so. If a company is cutting corners and hurting others, it would be morally unacceptable not to blow the whistle on this company. To knowingly let innocent people get hurt because of something that you could have stopped is morally wrong. A lot of people would blow the whistle on a company that is making unsafe products, but not all. A number of people would not inform the public of the company's wrongdoings. They would not do it out of fear that they might loose there job or even be blacklisted from the industry altogether. If they are not fired they will most likely be outcasts at their job and looked over at promotion time.
Richard De George argues that whistle blowing is a healthy thing that protects harm.

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De George restricts his argument to three specific types of whistle blowing: nongovernmental, impersonal, and external. De George states that there are basic moral considerations on when you may be required to blow the whistle (i.e., safety or prevention of harm). External whistle blowing you have to deal with the issue of loyalty versus the prevention of harm and know when to do one over the other. According to him, if in the process of whistle blowing you put yourself in harms way, then the duty is off, and the act to whistle blow is discretionary. He states that in some instances it is justifiable, permissible, and possibly a mandatory duty to do. There are five steps you need to cover in order to make whistle blowing permissible according to De George and are as follows: 1.) If you find that the company's product will cause serious or considerable harm to public, 2.) You must report the threat to an immediate superior before you tell the public (basically assuming the company wants to fix the problem), 3.) If an immediate supervisor does nothing about it, then you have to exhaust all possible internal procedures within the firm by taking it up the chain of command and, if necessary, even to the board of directors (all the while still assuming the company wants to fix the problem), 4.) Must have documented, convincing evidence of your claim, and 5.) The employee must have a good reason to believe that going external will actually bring about changes. De George argues that whistle blowing is permissible, but not required, if you cover the first three steps and mandatory if you cover all five.
I do agree with De George and his arguments for whistle blowing. I think it is important to continually try and keep the problem internal no matter what. I feel it is the best way to solve the problem because nobody will get hurt that much by the act of whistle blowing. Using De George's five steps lays an essential foundation for anyone who feels that there is a considerable problem, which is harmful in nature and needs to be resolved. An employee needs to continually try and keep the problem internal so as not to look disloyal. If the problem continually gets overlooked, than there must be a step taken to make the problem known externally as De George suggests in his fourth and fifth steps.
The best solution to this problem may lie between yes and no. One does have a certain moral standard to uphold. This would include blowing the whistle on a company that is hurting others because of unsafe products. This would also include the moral responsibility to provide and care for yourself and a family. A person does have a moral responsibility to both of these. One way to accomplish both would be to inform the public about the company's wrong doings, but do it anonymously so no one would know who did it. By staying anonymous, you can keep your job and still support your dependents. By a utilitarian point of view this would be the best scenario. A possible negative affect could come from the company's high officials losing
money because of the bad publicity. The positives would come from the public who is now safe from the harmful product and the whistle blower himself because he/she still has his/her job. This type of whistle blowing seems to have more benefits than negatives, thus resulting in a correct way of whistle blowing if internal is not getting you anywhere. After all, you do have a moral responsibility to look out for the well being of your peers and to provide for your dependents. This does both of these things.
Overall I think it is morally permitted to blow the whistle on a company and mandatory if the harm will cause significant harm to the public as De George argues. It does however need to be done first through internal measures all the while assuming the company wants to fix the problem. Once this internal method doesn't hold, then and only then should an employee consider external whistle blowing. I also think it is morally mandatory to provide for yourself and your family. The anonymous whistle blower is a good solution to take care of both of these moral dilemmas.
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