A whistleblower is a person who comes forward and shares his/her knowledge on any wrongdoing which he/she
thinks is happening in the whole organisation or in a specific department. However, one can adopt a normative
strategy when facing tough ethical choices as it can help people to evaluate and think carefully so as to prevent
them from making irrational decisions.
Normative ethics provides several philosophical approaches for making sound ethical decisions and it can be
categorized into three types: (a) virtue ethics, (b) deontology and (c) consequentialism
a) Virtue Ethics: It is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes an individual’s character as the key element of ethical
thinking. For example it is virtuous to be courageous when faced with physical confrontation. In this case whistle
blowing is the right thing to do because it requires one to tell the truth, to speak up/sound out and to emphasize
with others, thus promoting positive virtues like honesty, courage and empathy. Any person who upholds any of
these virtues will feel obliged to blow the whistle because it can improve one’s integrity.
However, it is also believed that whistle blowing disregards virtues in different ways. For instance, whistle blowing
can be seen as “putting people’s lives at risk, publishing stolen data and degrading loyalty, privacy and integrity of
data. A common conflict with regards to whistle blowing is between the virtue of loyalty and honesty. Many
whistleblowers following this ethical approach will often face the dilemma of being truthful or remaining loyal.
Therefore, one should weigh their priorities between these two virtues and choose a side of loyalty or honesty.
b) Deontology: Deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical position that judges the morality of an
action based on rules. It is sometimes described as “duty-” or “obligation-” or “rule-” based ethics, because rules
“bind you to your duty.” It was proposed by Kant.
In this case, according to Kantian perspective, one should have a duty to follow the institutional principles and rules
and regulations that have been set to dictate the actions of a person within an institution. One should not think
much about consequences of not blowing whistle but simply abide by the institutional rule.
c) Consequentialism: Consequentialism is the class of normative ethics considering that the consequences of one’s
conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. It focuses on
ends or goals or consequences. It includes philosophical approaches like egoism and utilitarianism.
In this case it is rare that person will face the dilemma of deciding whether to blow the whistle. Well-known
whistleblowers will never even consider whistle blowing if they follow the egoism method of making ethical
decisions. This is because the upcoming hassle/trouble it will face after he blows the whistle will deter them from
doing so. As such, egoist will feel that it is not a duty but rather a choice to blow the whistle on unethical or illegal
acts. They will only blow the whistle if it is within their self-interest and if they are not negatively affected in any
From a utilitarian perspective, the act of whistle blowing is seen as the calculation results of different foreseen
consequences, and the impact of possible consequences on the conflicting loyalties. The availability of alternatives
and whether the benefits of whistle blowing outweigh the cost determine the choice of whether or not to blow the
whistle. Hence, whistle blowing should be considered as a duty when it is known that the consequences of nondisclosure
will result in extremely negative impacts on the public.
Conclusion: The above analysis shows that three different approaches guide a moral agent in different directions in
same situation. Each perspective has its own merits and demerits. Hence, it is up to the person in situation to weigh
competing merits and demerits of each moral guidance and then decide his course of action.