What Is Whistleblowing?

  • Daniele Santoro
  • Manohar Kumar
Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 6)


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 discussion of some early cases. We pay particular attention to the ancient Greek practice of parrhesia, and then situate whistleblowing within the debate on publicity. In the second part of the chapter we turn to the current debate on the morality of whistleblowing and review some conceptions proposed in the literature: the standard theory, complicity, the moral choice view, integrity, civic duty, and the question of loyalty. In the final part we lay down the features of a comprehensive definition. We introduce an important distinction between political and civic whistleblowing, provide a detailed account of both forms, and clear some confusions that have emerged in the recent literature.


Civic whistleblowing Political whistleblowing Parrhesia Publicity Moral choice Complicity Integrity Civic duty 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele Santoro
    • 1
  • Manohar Kumar
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Ethics, Politics, and Society, ILCHUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Social Sciences and HumanitiesIndraprastha Institute of Information Technology, DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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