The first approach to whistle blowing condemns whistle blowers as people who rat on their own organizations or companies, thus, undermining the authority’s hierarchy and teamwork (Martin, 402). Although an approach, Martin feels that corporations should note that for employees loyalty to the organization is not an absolute moral principle, and thus, it is the role of the public to protect whistleblowers. The second approach suggests that although whistle blowing is a necessary evil and at times tagged admirable when it happens, all around it is always bad news (Martin, 402). This is simply because it disrupts and damages the known network of friendship within the company with leaders of that organization being seen as failures, while the whistle blower is viewed by his or her colleagues as unfit employee, whom they become resentful towards. The third approach postulates the idea that it is the obligation of other professions such as engineers to whistle blow and should treat it as paramount in certain situations (p. 403).
According to Richard De George, it is morally obligatory for corporate employees to blow the whistle externally if five conditions are met, such as when it involves considerable and serious harm to the public, one reports to the immediate superior the moral concern about the harm, when other channels within the organization are exhausted, when enough evidence to convince an impartial observer that his or her point of view is correct, and lastly, when by going public one believes that changes necessary to prevent harm will be made (p. 403). However, George claims that by satisfying the first three conditions of the five morally obligatory conditions, then the individual is morally permissible to blow the whistle. According to George, it is wrong to blow the whistle if there is less documented evidence to support the allegation or when there is doubt in the whistle blowers mind on whether by doing so change would occur. Martin, however, criticizes George’s approach, claiming the condition four and five are too strong since one needs better documentation, even when carrying out permissible whistle blowing, and whistle blowing on the grounds of hope is not enough to convince a rational mind (p. 403).
The urge to blow the whistle can be strong at first, but that is only prima facia, meaning that it is the feeling that first comes to mind when a wrong is noted, but when all factors such as responsibilities to family and personal life are considered they tend to change perspective. Therefore, even when they have a moral obligation to whistle blow these individuals such as engineers will tend to ignore such so as to protect their careers and income that feeds their families (Martin, 404). According to Martin, such a principle is contextual in the sense that to blow the whistle the individual in question has to weigh the effects the move will have on him/ her and personal life such as family and therefore it is dependent on given factors.
The relevance of Avoid-Harm, Prevent-harm, and Professional-Status Arguments to the whistle blowing debate can be noted from the facts that by trying to avoid harm one would be considering the equality of other people’s interest and treating them impartially when weighing them with your own (p. 405). Secondly, the prevent harm argument tries to bring the idea that the whistle blower should try to ensure that no harm comes to other thus implying that they should make greater personal sacrifices. And as for the professional status argument, here the whistle blower is to consider his or her professionals and responsibilities that come from that (p. 404). Therefore, before blowing the whistle one has to consider what his/ her profession demands on the matter, if any then the decisions should follow the codified duties. Martin as a critic does have a point of refuting the general assumption postulating that professional duties as expressed in the professional status are morally relevant when making the decision to blow the whistle. The second point that he makes is that individuals sacrificing themselves just to protect us is not rational if they will fail to protect themselves first.
Martin’s ideology on whistle blowing is evidently different from what other writers subscribe to, for example, Martin claims that although whistle blowing is a necessary evil, one has to note that it brings nothing but bad all over (Martin, 402). However, George on the other hand stands for the idea; although by blowing the whistle one will be harmed, he is to sacrifice his/ her safety for the sake of others (p. 404). An ideology that Martin criticizes claiming that a rational mind will reject since self-protection tends to always come first to a human mind. Martin through his writings one can say is a realist who does support whistle blowing, but tends to ask the whistle blower to weigh all both the negatives and positives before jumping to act. One can take Martin’s consideration on personal life as a way to discourage whistle blowing, but the fact remains that he is only but trying to get the whistle blower fully prepared with all factors that may arise from whistle blowing and if they are worthy the sacrifices. With such in mind, whistle blowing will definitely reduce since the public will not be in a rush to act without having all factors in play.
The role played by personal ideals, integrity, and character is great since through integrity one is able to justify his or her act of blowing the whistle as, but for the good of the public and morally right. With that in mind, yes an engineer may be morally obligated to blow the whistle even when there would be enormous personal cost. It is simply because of the fact that when the lives of many depend on that simple act of speaking up and blowing the whistle, then it is ones duty to do so, no matter the price.
Martin, W. Mike. Whistleblowing: Professionalism and Personal Life. Assessed on 4th April, 2014.