The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 28, 2021

Political Resistance

Michele BocchiolaOrcid-ID, Emanuela CevaOrcid-ID
Pages 53-70

Whistleblowing, or the Resistance to Institutional Wrongdoing from Within

The article discusses the resort to whistleblowing as a form of resistance to institutional wrongdoing that comes from within an institution. The resort to whistleblowing can take either an individual or an institutional form. As an individual act of resistance, whistleblowing has often been presented as a last resort against institutional wrongdoing whose justification draws on normative arguments for civil disobedience. The institutional form we present in this article shows a nontrivial sense in which a “normalized resort” to whistleblowing can be morally justified as an ordinary practice to resist institutional wrongdoing. Whistleblowing is thus a component of an institutional ethics of office that calls on officeholders’ responsibility to engage in practices of self-scrutiny and self-correction of institutional dysfunctions. The integration of the justification of the resort to whistleblowing within this framework emphasizes the importance of entrusting the oversight of institutional action primarily to institutional members.