Why Would I Be a Whistleblower?

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The ethics of whistleblowing are complex and challenging. On the one hand, there are a strong set of moral reasons why someone ought to blow the whistle when he or she learns of wrongdoing. On the other hand, such actions typically come at a significant cost to the whistleblower and may not bring about any significant change. Both aspects prompt us to ask, why would I be a whistleblower? Emanuela Ceva and Michele Bocchiola's Is Whistleblowing a Duty? answers that question by arguing that one has an organizational duty to blow the whistle. Kate Kenny's Whistleblowing: Toward a New Theory reframes the question, showing how hard it has been for members of the international financial industry to blow the whistle and bring about any effective change to that industry. In this review essay, I suggest that analyses of whistleblowing need to take into account evolving technologies, the importance of loyalty, and special contexts such as whistleblowing in the national security sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 24 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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