, Volume 41, Issue 1-2, pp 179-185

Loyalty in Business?

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Abstract

Discussions of loyalty in business typically assume that employees have a prima facieduty of loyalty to their companies, one that sometimes conflicts with other duties, such as the duty to blow the whistle in response to dangerous or unethical practices. Ronald Duska, however, denies the existence of any such duty. According to Duska, one does not have an duty of loyalty to a company, even a prima facieone, because companies are not proper objects of loyalty. He bases this conclusion on two premises: first, that loyalty is appropriate only in relationships that demand self-sacrifice without expectation of reward, and second, that the employee-company relationship does not demand such sacrifice.

In this paper I pose a dilemma for Duska. Briefly put: one can interpret Duska's phrase relationships that demand self-sacrifice without expectation of reward" either narrowly or broadly. If one interprets it narrowly, then Duska's first premise is false; if broadly, then his second premise is false. Either way, Duska's argument is unsound. However, after rejecting his conclusion about loyalty in business, I go on to argue that Duska is right to deny that the duty of loyalty conflicts with the duty to blow the whistle. More generally, the paper is an attempt to elucidate the proper application of loyalty in business.