Classified public whistleblowing: How to justify a pro tanto wrong

Eric Boot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Though whistleblowing is quickly becoming an accepted means of addressing wrongdoing, whistleblower protection laws and the relevant case law are either awkwardly silent, unclear or mutually inconsistent concerning public disclosures of classified government information. I remedy this problem by first arguing that such disclosures constitute a pro tanto wrong as they violate (1) promissory obligations, (2) role obligations and (3) the obligation to respect the democratic allocation of power. However, they may be justified if (1) the information disclosed concerns grave government wrongdoing, (2) alternative channels of disclosure are first exhausted and (3) steps are taken to minimize harm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-567
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Theory and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • law
  • sociology


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