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There have been a lot of corporate scandals in recent memory. Could it be true that there weren't any Objectivists working in those companies with material knowledge about the crimes or unethical practices, who should have done the right thing (sooner) and blown the whistle to the authorities on the crimes? Or were they there and they didn't take the proper (courageous) action? Enron, bogus mortgages, insider trading, or maybe a less well-known case where your employer is defrauding clients or customers through false statements of some kind. What if your "work place" is the military?

Has anyone been in a position where they were faced with an employer who was conducting clearly illegal or unethical actions, and you became a whistle blower? (It would be interesting to hear from people who knew they should take action but didn't. But that would entail a confession of not living with integrity--unless someone can make a case otherwise.)

Maybe you've been in such a situation but left the company so as not to sanction or participate in the unethical or illegal practices. But if you didn't take positive action to stop the crimes, suspecting your actions would have made a difference, isn't that a choice to not be a whistle blower?

asked Nov 25 '10 at 21:21

QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

QEDbyBrett ♦

The propriety of "whistle blowing" depends on exactly what "blowing the whistle" consists of, and for what alleged crime or impropriety by the person or persons being "whistled" against. So much of what is today considered improper corporate conduct is not, in fact, contrary to any rational standard. The entire edifice of antitrust laws, for example, ought not to exist at all, according to Objectivism. In Atlas Shrugged, we see Hank Rearden doing things that are clearly illegal, and getting caught at it by his destroyers. Furthermore, "blowing the whistle" is described in the question as ranging from merely exercising personal moral choice to reporting the "whistled" party to some kind of governmental authority for criminal prosecution. The propriety of doing that depends critically on exactly what kind of consequence is to be suffered by the target of one's "whistle," and for what.

Trying to answer a question couched in such loose terminology in any further detail than that would (for me, at least) risk sanctioning all the improper connotations of "whistle blowing" along with any cases where the "whistling" is entirely warranted and appropriate.

answered Nov 28 '10 at 14:56

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

There are an infinite number of possible situations, so I attempted to set the context with some obvious (I thought) examples. If someone has been a genuine whistle blower I'm confident they would know it. Please note, I'm not asking what would you do in a hypothetical case. I'm asking for a real instance when one person with knowledge and integrity made a profound difference (or tried to, knowing it would come at great personal cost). It doesn't have to be at the level of a national scandal. I'm sure there are many more instances at the local and regional level. Maybe no one here?

(Nov 28 '10 at 23:49) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

Also, you say a critical factor is knowing what consequences will be suffered. How can that be known, specifically, without omniscience? You can only know that there will likely be serious and significant repercussions. On the other hand, you'll know that you will have acted with integrity, when no one else would or could. Isn't that more important?

(Nov 28 '10 at 23:55) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

Blowing the whistle regarding The Logical Leap is a good subject of study, in vivo.

answered Nov 28 '10 at 23:48

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

Mindy, there seems to be whistles blowing in several directions about Harriman's book--many claims and counter claims about historical, philosophical, or ethical problems. If you have a personal stake and action in this unfolding scenario I hope you will elaborate, vis-a-vis my question. Or there could be some great new questions posed on this website about it.

(Nov 30 '10 at 22:24) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

The hullabaloo surrounding the book is typical of all whistle-blower situations, I would think.

(Dec 01 '10 at 21:57) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

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Asked: Nov 25 '10 at 21:21

Seen: 1,851 times

Last updated: Dec 01 '10 at 21:57