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  1. Michael Davis

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee017

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Davis, M. 2013. Whistleblowing. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Similar to the related terms “whistleblower” and “blow the whistle on,” “whistleblowing” (in the technical sense relevant here) is neither an old term nor one the meaning of which is altogether settled. The first use in print seems to be in Roche (1971: 148), then president of General Motors (GM): “However this is labeled – industrial espionage, whistle blowing, or professional responsibility – it is another tactic for spreading disunity and creating conflict” (see Professional Ethics). Its first use in the Philosopher's Index was in 1980 (about the same time as the term appeared in the Library of Congress catalogue). Discussion of whistleblowing in government began about the same time. For example, the Government Accountability Project (a nongovernmental organization) first published A Whistleblower's Guide to the Federal Bureaucracy in 1977. Though initially American, the term “whistleblowing” has long since become international.


  • business ethics;
  • government, politics, and law;
  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • science