On complicity theory

Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (2):257-264 (2006)
Abstract
The received account of whistleblowing, developed over the last quarter century, is identified with the work of Norman Bowie and Richard DeGeorge. Michael Davis has detailed three anomalies for the received view: the paradoxes of burden, missing harm and failure. In addition, he has proposed an alternative account of whistleblowing, viz., the Complicity Theory. This paper examines the Complicity Theory. The supposed anomalies rest on misunderstandings of the received view or misreadings of model cases of whistleblowing, for example, the Challenger disaster and the Ford Pinto. Nevertheless, the Complicity Theory is important for as in science the contrast with alternative competing accounts often helps us better understand the received view. Several aspects of the received view are reviewed and strengthened through comparison with Complicity Theory, including why whistleblowing needs moral justification. Complicity Theory is also critiqued. The fundamental failure of Complicity Theory is its failure to explain why government and the public encourage and protect whistleblowers despite the possibility of considerable harm to the relevant company in reputation, lost jobs, and lost shareholder value.
Keywords whistleblowing  Challenger  De George  Davis  complicity
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