Thomas Tam Case Study

1998 Words 8 Pages
1. Introduction
This paper will explore the ethical dilemma faced by Thomas Tamm when deciding to reveal confidential information about a government surveillance program to the press. While working as a lawyer working for the United States Department of Justice, Tamm was tasked with overseeing the electronic surveillance warrants required as a part of a secret program set up by the Bush Administration. During his time working for the Department of Justice, Tamm became aware that some of the surveillance had been conducted without a warrant and took this information to the press. From a moral standpoint, this incident raises a number of questions about whether Tamm was morally required to disclose the confidential information. This report will
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A whistle-blower is an employee who reveals information that “calls attention to negligence, abuse or dangers that threaten the public interest” (Bok in Tavani 2012). Bok believes that whistle blowing is a form of dissent (to the employer) and should always be used as a last resort. Many ethicists believe that employees have a prima facie obligation of loyalty to the employer, although sceptics will argue that in modern times this is no longer a valid belief (Tavani, 2012). Employers could find themselves hesitant to put their trust in employees due to the potential of an employee revealing confidential information to the …show more content…
From a utilitarian perspective, a whistle-blower should only blow the whistle if the benefits outweigh the cost. On the other hand, if a deontological theory were to be applied, the consequences would be considered irrelevant, and the whistle-blower would have a duty based on their whether they felt it was their moral duty to reveal the information. A utilitarian may argue that the cost of Tamm blowing the whistle may have outweighed the benefits, since Tamm suffered many consequences as a result, such as being unable to find work and being publicly censured (Tavani, 2012).
Richard De George (in Tavani 2012) has developed a model to guide us in making a decision on whether blowing the whistle is morally permissible or even morally required. This model states that the following criteria need to be met for whistleblowing to be morally permissible:
• The information revealed indicates a threat of serious / considerable financial or physical harm to member/s of the public
• The employee has made their concerns known to the employer
• The employee has received no satisfaction and has exhausted all channels within the organisation
Further, De George’s model defines the criteria for where whistle blowing is morally required

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