This is a paper written by the author Davis, where he attempts to find the justification behind the unpurposeful acts of whistleblowing by some honest and sincere employees of top-level organizations. He tries to state that sometimes such employees who are committed to their duties and to their organizations well-being concede some specific piece of public information that makes them to be called as whistleblowers. This is just a step to protect their organizations and its employees’ interests. To clarify and prove his point he gives the famous case of Roger Boisjoly.
The case of Roger Boisjoly is a typical one. Boisjoly volunteered information in public testimony, before the Rogers Commission which his boss Thiokol didn’t approve. This act of Boisjoly termed as whistleblowing by some was certainly not liked by the boss or even his co-workers who naturally reacted hostilely. As a result, Boisjoly had to give up his current job and bid goodbye to his friends and neighbors. The author, has clarified that Boisjoly was just trying to warn his employer and not betray his trust. He didn’t concede any public information, but only tried to gather his superior’s attention towards some necessary facts. Eventually, it was found out by the Roger’s Commission that the booster’s redesign was necessary and other safety features be considered as suggested by Boisjoly. The author contemplates that Boisjoly only wanted to prevent the falsification of the record. Boisjoly spoke up just an evening before the Challenger disaster, just when the lives of seven astronauts were at stake. This according to the author was not an act of whistleblowing.
According to the standard theory disloyalty on the part of the employee is morally permissible when certain conditions are met. Firstly, the organization to which the would-be whistleblower belongs would do serious and considerable harm to the public through its product or policy. Next, the would-be whistleblower must have identified the threat of harm, reported it to his immediate superior and making clear both the threat itself and the objection to it (Davis). The whistleblower must have had exhausted other internal procedures within the organization .
According to the standard theory, Whistleblowing is morally required when it is required at all, because people have a moral obligation to prevent serious harm to others. Whistleblowing
meeting all the five conditions is a form of minimally decent Samaritanism, a doing of what morality requires rather than going well beyond the moral minimum (Davis).
According to some authors, the standard theory is not as effective as the new theory. This is due to the reason that the conditions S1-S5 state sufficient conditions for morally required whistleblowing, whereas S1-S3 do not state sufficient conditions for morally permissible whistleblowing.
According to the author, any complicity theory of justified whistleblowing has two general advantages over the standard theory (Davis). First is that moral complicity itself presupposes moral wrongdoing, not harm. Thereby, a complicity justification automatically avoids the paradox of missing harm. It emphasizes the facts of whistleblowing better than a theory such as the standard theory. The second advantage is that the complicity invokes a more demanding obligation than the ability to prevent harm does. The standard theory in contrast has nothing to say about how the whistleblower comes to know of the threat he reveals.
Davis, M. Some Paradoxes of Whistleblowing. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, vol. 15(1), pp. 3-15.