Concurrent Session 1b: Spheres of Moral Responsibility

Chair: xxx(University)

Too Much Corporate Responsibility: Whistleblowing and Whistleblowing Procedures

Wim Vandekerckhove
Department of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour
University of Greenwich Business School
University of Greenwich
London, UK

Whistleblowing is ‘the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to affect action’ (Near and Miceli, 1985, 4). In this presentation I explore how research into whistleblowing and regulatory developments around the issue, impact the validity of notions of responsibility in the context of whistleblowing. Research during the 1990s has rendered the assumed dilemma of citizen responsibility and employee responsibility obsolete. The implications are that internal and external whistleblowing belong in the same behavioural category, and that hence the ‘one million dollar question’ with regard to responsibility shifts from the whistleblower to the manager.

In the past thirty years numerous pieces of legislation have been passed to offer protection to whistleblowers from retaliation for disclosing organisational wrongdoing. An area that remains uncertain in relation to whistleblowing and its related policies in organisations, is whether these policies actually increase the individualisation of work, allowing employees to behave in accordance with their conscience and in line with societal expectations or whether they are another management tool to control employees and protect organisations from them. I examine the assumptions of whistleblower protection with regard to moral autonomy, and submit that this makes employees not just responsible, but also liable for ethics at work.

Both shifts open up new research paths into responsibility in the contexts of organisations and whistleblowing. I conclude by briefly sketching these.

The Case of the Kunduz Airstrike: Moral Responsibility in the Military

Anya Topolski
Department of Philosophy and Ethics
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
Eindhoven, the Netherlands

While the debate over what is now known as the Kunduz Airstrike has by no means ended, it has missed a key point. By focusing solely on the question of who is to blame, the complexity of the question of moral responsibility and specifically the role of network enabled technology in peacekeeping missions has been overlooked. The complexity of the problem, situations and resolutions cannot be thought apart from a network which requires a different type of relational thinking that is at odds with the exclusive binary logic (us vs. them) of traditional military operations. By means of a n analysis of the Kunduz Airstrike, I present a proposal to introduce moral responsibility to the military which calls for both an alternative type of thinking and a complementary training. Rather than an us vs. them approach, I propose a relational model where everyone both within and external to the network be approached in relational terms. This can occur by means of two processes: rooting and shifting. Rooting calls for those making choices to think about their norms, perspectives needs etc. This awareness is necessary for the second step, shifting to the others (diverse and conflicting) perspectives, norms, needs, etc. This ‘located’ reflective thinking is what is called for by NEO. It is with this basic understanding of self and other that one can better develop trust, dialogue and shared moral responsibility.

Moral Responsibility from an Answerability Perspective

Franc Rottiers
Department of Philosophy
Ghent University
Ghent, Belgium

An ethic of research commences with an appreciation of the aesthetic circumstances a researcher encounters. These circumstances make an appeal to the researcher as well as the ‘participants’  she encounters. During my presentation I will argue that the aesthetical circumstances of the situational encounter between researcher and researched are conditional to the ethical requirements ensued by the event as described by Badiou. This does not mean however that any situation conjoined with its aesthetical finesse is conditional to the ethics of the event. On the contrary, it are the ethical requirements ensued by the event that make possible that the aesthetics of a situation can become conditional for an event that is always ethically ‘tuned’, while at the same time recognizing that the situation is not always aesthetically ‘fixed’. Drawing upon these ideas, which require a perspective in which ethics and aesthetics are inseparable, and case studies performed with (undocumented) migrants, it will we shown that the Bakhtinian approach to answerability can be equated with the ethics of the event while at the same time recognizing that this approach is dependent upon the aesthetical value or valuation of the situation that researcher and participant are  able to ‘perform’ the right question to the required answerability. Related to the conference topic this exposition will contribute to the question whether the aesthetics of crimes against humanity only makes sense from the perspective of the ethics of the event.