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Business - Whistle Blowing.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

WHISTLE BLOWING AND EMPLOYEE LOYALTY – DUSKA  Industrial espionage, whistle blowing or professional responsibility – it is another tactic for spreading disunity and creating conflict  Bowie claims that whistle blowing violates a prima facie duty of loyalty to one’s employer, there is a duty of loyalty that prohibits one from reporting his employer or company  I want to argue that one does not have an obligation of loyalty to a company, even a prima facie one, because companies are not the kind of things that are properly objects of loyalty  Idealists who hold that loyalty is devotion to something more than persons, to some cause or abstract entity. One the other side are what Ladd calls social atomists and these include empiricists and utilitarians who think that at most one can only be loyal to the individuals and that loyalty can ultimately be explained away as some other obligation that holds between two people. Finally, there is a moderate position that holds that although idealists go too far in postulating some super-personal entity as an object of loyalty, loyalty is still an important and real relation that holds between people, one that cannot be dismissed by reducing it in some other relation  To avoid the problem of individual existing for the sake of the group, the atomists insists that a group is nothing more than the individuals who comprise it, nothing other than a mental fiction by which we refer to a group of individuals  A company has no moral status except in terms of the individual members who comprise it  There is a division of labour into roles necessary for the fulfillment of the purposes of the group  It seems then that an atomist account of loyalty that restricts loyalty merely to individuals and does not include loyalty to groups might be inadequate  A business or corporation does to things in the free enterprise system: it produces a good or service and it makes a profit  A company feels no obligation of loyalty  Business functions on the basis of enlightened self interest  The cold hard truth is that the goal of profit is what gives birth to a company and forms that particular group  A company is not a person, a company is an instrument and an instrument with a specific purpose, the making of a profit  What is perceived as bad about whistle blowing in business from this perspective is that one blows the whistle on one’s own team, thereby violating team loyalty  Rival companies compete and their object is to win. To call a foul on one’s own teammate is to jeopardized one’s chance of winning and is viewed as disloyalty  The issue is not only of disloyalty to the company, but of whether the whistle blower has an obligation to society if blowing the whistle will bring him retaliation WHISTLE BLOWING AND ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS – BRENKERT  Whistle-blowing is largely a contemporary phenomenon that has increased infrequency and extent  There are other important issues to which answers regarding the justification of this or that act of whistle blowing may only be a partial and frequently ineffective response  Whistle blowing is the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action  It seems that the whistle blower is a person with privileged access to an organization’s data or information that he has gained due to his official relationship with the organization  Even though whistle blowing must be a deliberate act, any particular whistle blower might not want his or her name associated with the act of whistle blowing  Particularly in Europe anonymous whistle blowing has been viewed as unjustified  Whistle blowing is reserved conceptually only for serious moral faults  Whistle blowing need not to be someone in authority, though frequently it will be  Through one’s association or membership with an organization, one takes on certain responsibilities one would not otherwise have  I will argue that in accordance with a principle of positional responsibility a person has a responsibility to blow the whistle  In each situation potentially involving whistle blowing one must not simply consider whether there are good moral reasons to blow the whistle but also whether one should, all things considered blow the whistle given the balance of responsibilities and ideal forms of behavior to which or she is committed  The employer/employee relationship has both legal and moral aspects. Since both the law and applications of moral standards differ from society to society, these differences will have an impact on the justification of whistle blowing in different societies  Any action that might jeopardize their jobs or the company may be viewed as disloyal and undercutting what they hold important. A person of integrity would seriously regard each of these duties  If we assume that the principal would want to know about wrongdoing so that he or she could correct it then an employee would be justified on the basis of this job responsibility to report the wrongdoing to his principle  Whistle-blowing occurs when the person one reports to has rejected one’s notice regarding some wrongdoing  Such disobedience is generally taken to be a sign of disloyalty. Thus, whistle blowing only occurs when one does not follow the usual hierarchical order of reporting. If one breaks ranks, as it were, to inform someone not
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