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Dissolving the moral dilemma of whistleblowing
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
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 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 labelled 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 76, no 4, 413-426 p.
Keyword [en]
free speech, justice as fairness, loyalty, permission for whistleblowing, whistleblowing
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-14250DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-9291-2ISI: 000250626100004Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-35748967548OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-14250DiVA: diva2:331897
Note
QC 20100728Available from: 2010-07-28 Created: 2010-07-28 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Employment Contract between Ethics and Economics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Employment Contract between Ethics and Economics
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates what work ought to be like. The answer it presents consists of an outline of a liberaltheory of justice in the employment contract based on theory developed in the area of political philosophy. Thethesis also examines issues of efficiency—How should measures to improve working conditions be evaluated?—and the ethical implications of the economic theory of employment contracts and the neoclassical theory of themarket.

Paper I: A theoretical framework is introduced for the evaluation of workplace inspections with respect totheir effects on working conditions. The choice of a concept of efficiency is discussed, and its relation to criteriafor a good working environment is clarified. It is concluded that in order to obtain reliable information onthe effects of different inspection methods, it is necessary to perform controlled comparative studies in whichdifferent methods are used on different workplaces.

Paper II: This article outlines the structure of a Rawlsian theory of justice in the employment relationship.The theory answers three questions about justice and the workplace. What is the relationship between socialjustice and justice at work? How should we conceive of the problem of justice within the economic sphere?And, what is justice in the workplace? Reasons for a specific construction of a local original position are givenand arguments are presented in support of a principle of local justice in the form of a choice egalitarian localdifference principle.

Paper III: The political philosophy of John Rawls is applied to the moral dilemma of whistleblowing, andit is shown that that the requirement of loyalty, in the sense that is needed to create this dilemma, is inconsistentwith that theory. 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 takeninto account.

Paper IV: The case is made that if contemporary economics of the employment contract is correct, thenin order to explain the existence of employment contracts, we must make the assumption that the contractingparties are attempting to deal with decisiontheoreticignorance. It follows that the course of action that theemployer chooses to take when acting from authority cannot be justified by consent, since the informednesscriterion of consent cannot be satisfied under ignorance. It is then suggested that in order to achieve justificationof acts of authority, there must be in place a real possibility to contest employers’ decisions.

Paper V: According to Ronald Dworkin’s theory of equality of resources, mimicking the ideal market fromequal starting points is fair. According to Dworkin, the ideal market should be understood as described in GérardDebreu’s influential work, which implies that we should conceive of trade as taking place under certainty. Thereare no choices under risk in such a market. Therefore, there is no such thing as option luck in the ideal market.Consequently, when mimicking this market, we cannot hold people responsible for option luck. Mimicking thismarket also implies that we ought to set up a social safety net, since rational individuals with perfect foresightwould see to it that they always have sufficient resources at each point in life. Furthermore, the idea of insuranceis incompatible with the ideal market.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2009. ix, 32 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword
Justice, work, efficiency, desert, consent, contestability, workplace inspections, whistleblowing, the market, equality of resources, justice as fairness, the employment contract
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-11346 (URN)978-91-7415-467-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-11-13, D2, Lindstedtsvägen 5, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100728Available from: 2009-10-28 Created: 2009-10-28 Last updated: 2010-07-28Bibliographically approved

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