Springer (2018)

Daniele Santoro
Universidade do Minho
Manohar Kumar
Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology
Whistleblowing is the public disclosure of information with the purpose of revealing wrongdoings and abuses of power that harm the public interest. This book presents a comprehensive theory of whistleblowing: it defines the concept, reconstructs its origins, discusses it within the current ethical debate, and elaborates a justification of unauthorized disclosures. Its normative proposal is based on three criteria of permissibility: the communicative constraints, the intent, and the public interest conditions. The book distinguishes between two forms of whistleblowing, civic and political, showing how they apply in the contexts of corruption and government secrecy. The book articulates a conception of public interest as a claim concerning the presumptive interest of the public. It argues that public interest is defined in opposition to corporate powers and its core content identified by the rights that are all-purposive for the distribution of social benefits. A crucial part of the proposal is dedicated to the impact of security policies and government secrecy on civil liberties. It argues that unrestrained secrecy limits the epistemic entitlement of citizens to know under which conditions their rights are limited by security policies and corporate interests. When citizens are denied the right to assess when these policies are prejudicial to their freedoms, whistleblowing represents a legitimate form of political agency that safeguards the fundamental rights of citizens against the threat of unrestrained secrecy by government power. Finally, the book contributes to shifting the attention of democratic theory from the procedures of consent formation to the mechanisms that guarantee the expression of dissent. It argues that whistleblowing is a distinctive form of civil dissent that contributes to the demands of institutional transparency in constitutional democracies and explores the idea that the way institutions are responsive to dissent determines the robustness of democracy, and ultimately, its legitimacy. What place dissenters have within a society, whether they enjoy personal safety, legal protection, and safe channels for their disclosure, are hallmarks of a good democracy, and of its sense of justice.
Keywords Whistleblowing  Civil Disobedience  Public Interest  Dissent  Governmental Secrecy
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy this book $24.99 new   $76.86 used   Amazon page
ISBN(s) 978-3-319-90721-5   978-3-319-90723-9   3030080838   3319907212   3319907220   9783319907215
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,323
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
Chapters BETA

In this book we have argued that whistleblowing is an act of civil dissent, insisting on the function of dissent in exposing the abuse of corporate and political power, and the limitations of the democratic procedures that undermine considerations of public interest, equality of rights, and accounta... see more

Charting Dissent: Whistleblowing, Civil Disobedience, and Conscientious Objection

How should one qualify political whistleblowing within a democratic system, governed by the rule of law? Whistleblowing is often considered a form of principled, sometimes even democratic dissent. In this last chapter, we discuss what kind of dissent whistleblowing is. We discuss various forms of di... see more

A Justification of Political Whistleblowing

In this chapter we provide a justification of political whistleblowing and articulate some criteria for the permissibility of disclosures. In the first part we discuss the main criticisms against political whistleblowing. In particular, we address the objections from the breach of obligation and tru... see more

The Threat of Secrecy

National security and strategic interests of the modern state require a certain amount of secrecy. However, state secrecy poses a dilemma for constitutional democracies, whose legitimacy depends on the transparency of democratic decision-making. In this chapter, we defend the argument that citizens’... see more

Public Interest and the Threat of Corruption: A Case for Civic Whistleblowing

Political corruption is a fraudulent exchange for the mutual advantage between parties entrusted with public power, and whose costs bear on third parties who do not enjoy the benefit of that transaction. A defining feature of political corruption is that it affects the public interest of constituenc... see more

What Is Whistleblowing?

The practice of fearless speech occupies a distinctive yet neglected role within the history of political thought. In this chapter we contextualize whistleblowing within such a tradition and define its proper scope. In the first part we offer an introduction on the origin of the term and a discussio... see more


In this book we argue that whistleblowing is crucial for democracy because it contributes to institutional transparency and is a safeguard against the potential abuse of government and corporate power. Its motivating idea is that whistleblowing is a form of civil dissent, that is a conscientious act... see more

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Theories of Whistleblowing.Emanuela Ceva & Michele Bocchiola - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 15 (1).

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Justification of Whistleblowing.Daniele Santoro & Manohar Kumar - 2017 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 43 (7):669-684.
The Ethics of Government Whistleblowing.Candice Delmas - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (1):77-105.
The Ethics of Whistleblowing: Creating a New Limit on Intelligence Activity.Ross W. Bellaby - 2018 - Journal of International Political Theory 14 (1):60-84.
Secrecy, Transparency and Government Whistleblowing.William H. Harwood - 2017 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 43 (2):164-186.
Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty.Robert A. Larmer - 1992 - Journal of Business Ethics 11 (2):125 - 128.
Classified Public Whistleblowing.Eric R. Boot - 2017 - Social Theory and Practice 43 (3):541-567.
Risky Rescues and the Duty to Blow the Whistle.Wim Vandekerckhove & Eva E. Tsahuridu - 2010 - Journal of Business Ethics 97 (3):365 - 380.
Dissolving the Moral Dilemma of Whistleblowing.Lars Lindblom - 2007 - Journal of Business Ethics 76 (4):413-426.


Added to PP index

Total views
37 ( #291,260 of 2,448,710 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #178,140 of 2,448,710 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes