Misconduct And Whistleblowing


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Misconduct And Whistleblowing

  1. 1. 2/20/2008 A Recent Case Here at UW Misconduct and Whistleblowing LANGURE: February 13, 2008 Robert Streiffer, Ph. D. Sara Patterson, Ph. D. Overview of Ethical Theories Discussion of Elizabeth Goodwin Case What did Goodwin do that was alleged to be wrong? Theory Principle Practical Advice Egoism A person ought to maximized the long-term Critically reflect on my own goals and Do you think that what Goodwin did was wrong? wrong? satisfaction of their own interests. how best to achieve them. Virtue Ethics A person ought to do what a virtuous person Observe my professional rules; be an (researcher, graduate student, etc.) would do. honest, responsible, and upright citizen What do you think of how the students in the lab of my group. Utilitarianism A person ought to do what has the best Give equal consideration to the like handled the situation? situation? overall consequences for individual welfare. interests of all individuals affected by my actions. Deontology A person ought to respect individuals’ moral Treat people’s rights and issues of How would the different ethical theories (egoism, virtue rights and other moral rules. fairness and justice as constraints on action. ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology) evaluate her behavior? Responses to Misconduct Whistleblowing: What is it? Approach person in question “Whistle- “Whistle-blowing is the voluntary release of nonpublic information, as a moral protest, by a Approach in-group supervisor in- member or former member of an organization Approach out-of-group supervisor out-of- outside the normal channels of communication to Whistleblowing h l bl an appropriate audience about illegal and/or immoral conduct in the organization or conduct in Boatright, John. 1997. Ethics and the Conduct of the organization that is opposed in some significant Business. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. way to the public interest.” 1
  2. 2. 2/20/2008 Whistleblowing: What isn’t it? Whistleblowing: What isn’t it? Not done by an outsider (e.g., not done by a Not legally required (e.g., not a compelled witness) reporter) Done to prevent or correct some wrong (e.g., not Not mere disagreement without disclosure of new merely to seek revenge) information (e.g., not merely a private letter to the editor expressing disagreement) Information must be believed to relate to matters of substantial public importance (e.g., not merely disclosing incompetence) Relevant Questions to Ask Policy: Potential Dangers Whistle- Whistle-blowing should not be undertaken lightly, as it has Potential for abuse the potential to ruin careers and damage institutions that serve the public good. Those contemplating whistle-blowing whistle- should ask themselves the following questions: Potential for unhelpful interference in the research “Is the situation of sufficient moral importance to justify process whistle-bl i ?” whistle-blowing?” hi tl “Do you have all the facts and have you properly understood their significant?” “Have all internal channels and steps short of whistle- whistle- Potential for escalation of valid scientific blowing been exhausted?” disagreements into claims about unethical conduct How much information should be revealed, and to whom? Does the violation concern an issue that falls within my responsibility in the institution? Does whistle-blowing have a reasonable chance of success? whistle- Policy: The Benefits The Components of a Policy Helps maintain integrity of the research enterprise “Statement of responsibility” by fostering an atmosphere in which misconduct is viewed as a grievous ethical violation and, when misconduct occurs, by alerting others to its “A clearly defined procedure for reporting” existence. “Well- “Well-trained personnel to receive and investigate Encourages early, corrective action reports.” Establishes internal mechanisms that can be more productive in fixing institutional problems than “A commitment to take appropriate action” “going public” Protects justified whistle-blowers, who do the whistle- “A guarantee against retaliation” research community a tremendous service 2
  3. 3. 2/20/2008 CALS Whistleblowing Policy Does the policy have each of the components? How could it be different? Stronger, weaker? Does it strike the right balance in terms of potential dangers and benefits? What improvements could be made? 3