Make Sentence Of Ought To Have Been

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First published Tue May 14, 2002; substantive revision Thu Jan 18, 2018

The car could have been stolenby zombies. (This makes sense. Therefore, have been stolen is in the passive voice.) The car could have been illicitby zombies. (This makes no sense. Therefore, have been illicit is in the active voice.) As a native English speaker, you're probably already great at deciding between active and passive voice. Ought to - English Grammar Today - a reference to written and spoken English grammar and usage - Cambridge Dictionary.

The term “privacy” is used frequently in ordinarylanguage as well as in philosophical, political and legal discussions,yet there is no single definition or analysis or meaning of the term.The concept of privacy has broad historical roots in sociological andanthropological discussions about how extensively it is valued andpreserved in various cultures. Moreover, the concept has historicalorigins in well known philosophical discussions, most notablyAristotle’s distinction between the public sphere of political activityand the private sphere associated with family and domestic life. Yethistorical use of the term is not uniform, and there remains confusionover the meaning, value and scope of the concept of privacy.

Early treatises on privacy appeared with the development of privacyprotection in American law from the 1890s onward, and privacyprotection was justified largely on moral grounds. This literaturehelps distinguish descriptive accounts of privacy, describingwhat is in fact protected as private, from normative accountsof privacy defending its value and the extent to which it should beprotected. In these discussions some treat privacy as aninterest with moral value, while others refer to it as a moralor legal right that ought to be protected by society or thelaw. Clearly one can be insensitive to another’s privacy interestswithout violating any right to privacy, if there is one.

There are several skeptical and critical accounts of privacy.According to one well known argument there is no right to privacy andthere is nothing special about privacy, because any interest protectedas private can be equally well explained and protected by otherinterests or rights, most notably rights to property and bodilysecurity (Thomson, 1975). Other critiques argue that privacy interestsare not distinctive because the personal interests they protect areeconomically inefficient (Posner, 1981) or that they are not groundedin any adequate legal doctrine (Bork, 1990). Finally, there is thefeminist critique of privacy, that granting special status to privacyis detrimental to women and others because it is used as a shield todominate and control them, silence them, and cover up abuse (MacKinnon,1989).

Nevertheless, most theorists take the view that privacy is ameaningful and valuable concept. Philosophical debates concerningdefinitions of privacy became prominent in the second half of thetwentieth century, and are deeply affected by the development ofprivacy protection in the law. Some defend privacy as focusing oncontrol over information about oneself (Parent, 1983), while othersdefend it as a broader concept required for human dignity (Bloustein,1964), or crucial for intimacy (Gerstein, 1978; Inness, 1992). Othercommentators defend privacy as necessary for the development of variedand meaningful interpersonal relationships (Fried, 1970, Rachels,1975), or as the value that accords us the ability to control theaccess others have to us (Gavison, 1980; Allen, 1988; Moore, 2003), oras a set of norms necessary not only to control access but also toenhance personal expression and choice (Schoeman, 1992), or somecombination of these (DeCew, 1997). Discussion of the concept iscomplicated by the fact that privacy appears to be something we valueto provide a sphere within which we can be free from interference byothers, and yet it also appears to function negatively, as the cloakunder which one can hide domination, degradation, or physical harm towomen and others.

This essay will discuss all of these topics, namely, (1) thehistorical roots of the concept of privacy, including the developmentof privacy protection in tort and constitutional law, and thephilosophical responses that privacy is merely reducible to otherinterests or is a coherent concept with fundamental value, (2) thecritiques of privacy as a right, (3) the wide array of philosophicaldefinitions or defenses of privacy as a concept, providing alternativeviews on the meaning and value of privacy (and whether or not it isculturally relative), as well as (4) the challenges to privacy posedin an age of technological advance. Overall, most writers defend thevalue of privacy protection despite the difficulties inherent in itsdefinition and its potential use to shield abuse. A contemporarycollection of essays on privacy provides strong evidence to supportthis point (Paul et al., 2000). The contributing authorsexamine various aspects of the right to privacy and its role in moralphilosophy, legal theory, and public policy. They also addressjustifications and foundational arguments for privacy rights.

  • 1. History
  • 2. Critiques of Privacy
  • 3. Views on the Meaning and Value of Privacy
  • 4. Privacy and Technology

1. History

Aristotle’s distinction between the public sphere of politics andpolitical activity, the polis, and the private or domesticsphere of the family, the oikos, as two distinct spheres oflife, is a classic reference to a private domain. The public/privatedistinction is also sometimes taken to refer to the appropriate realmof governmental authority as opposed to the realm reserved forself-regulation, along the lines described by John Stuart Mill in hisessay, On Liberty. Furthermore, the distinction arises againin Locke’s discussion of property in his Second Treatise onGovernment. In the state of nature all the world’s bounty is heldin common and is in that sense public. But one possesses oneself andone’s own body, and one can also acquire property by mixing one’s laborwith it, and in these cases it is one’s private property. Margaret Meadand other anthropologists have demonstrated the ways various culturesprotect privacy through concealment, seclusion or by restricting accessto secret ceremonies (Mead, 1949). Alan Westin (1967) has surveyedstudies of animals demonstrating that a desire for privacy is notrestricted to humans. However, what is termed private in these multiplecontexts varies. Privacy can refer to a sphere separate fromgovernment, a domain inappropriate for governmental interference,forbidden views and knowledge, solitude, or restricted access, to listjust a few.

1.1 Informational Privacy

More systematic written discussion of the concept of privacy is oftensaid to begin with the famous essay by Samuel Warren and LouisBrandeis titled “The Right to Privacy” (Warren andBrandeis, 1890). Citing “political, social, and economicchanges” and a recognition of “the right to be letalone” they argued that existing law afforded a way to protectthe privacy of the individual, and they sought to explain the natureand extent of that protection. Focusing in large part on the press andpublicity allowed by recent inventions such as photography andnewspapers, but referring as well to violations in other contexts,they emphasized the invasion of privacy brought about by publicdissemination of details relating to a person’s private life. Warrenand Brandeis felt a variety of existing cases could be protected undera more general right to privacy which would protect the extent towhich one’s thoughts, sentiments, and emotions could be shared withothers. Urging that they were not attempting to protect the itemsproduced, or intellectual property, but rather the peace of mindattained with such protection, they said the right to privacy wasbased on a principle of “inviolate personality” which waspart of a general right of immunity of the person, “the right toone’s personality” (Warren and Brandeis 1890, 195, 215). Theprivacy principle, they believed, was already part of common law andthe protection of one’s home as one’s castle, but new technology madeit important to explicitly and separately recognize this protectionunder the name of privacy. They suggested that limitations of theright could be determined by analogy with the law of slander andlibel, and would not prevent publication of information about publicofficials running for office, for example. Warren and Brandeis thuslaid the foundation for a concept of privacy that has come to be knownas control over information about oneself.

Although the first cases after the publication of their paper didnot recognize a privacy right, soon the public and both state andfederal courts were endorsing and expanding the right to privacy. In anattempt to systematize and more clearly describe and define the newright of privacy being upheld in tort law, William Prosser wrote in1960 that what had emerged were four different interests in privacy.Not claiming to be providing an exact definition, and admitting thatthere had been confusion and inconsistencies in the development ofprivacy protection in the law, Prosser nevertheless described the four“rather definite” privacy rights as follows:

  1. Intrusion upon a person’s seclusion or solitude, or into hisprivate affairs.
  2. Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts about anindividual.
  3. Publicity placing one in a false light in the public eye.
  4. Appropriation of one’s likeness for the advantage of another(Prosser 1960, 389).

Prosser noted that the intrusion in the first privacy right hadexpanded beyond physical intrusion, and pointed out that Warren andBrandeis had been concerned primarily with the second privacy right.Nevertheless, Prosser felt that both real abuses and public demand hadled to general acceptance of these four types of privacy invasions. Onhis view, answers to three main questions were at the time as yetunclear: (i) whether appearance in public implied forfeiture ofprivacy, (ii) whether facts part of a “public record”could still be private, and (iii) whether a significant lapse of timeaffected the privacy of revelations. Note that Warren and Brandeiswere writing their normative views about what they felt should beprotected under the rubric of privacy, whereas Prosser was describingwhat courts had in fact protected in the 70 years followingpublication of the Warren and Brandeis paper. Thus it is notsurprising that their descriptions of privacy differ. Because theSupreme Court has been explicit in ruling that privacy is a centralreason for Fourth Amendment protection, privacy as control overinformation about oneself has come to be viewed by many as alsoincluding protection against unwarranted searches, eavesdropping,surveillance, and appropriation and misuses of one’scommunications. Thomas Nagel (2002) gives a more contemporarydiscussion of privacy, concealment, publicity and exposure.

Despite the well-established protection of tort privacy to controlinformation about oneself in the courts, and the almost universalacceptance of the value of informational privacy by philosophers andthe populace, Abraham L. Newman (2008) and others have persuasivelyargued that the United States (US), and multiple countries in Asia, hasdeveloped a limited system of privacy protection that focuses onself-regulation within industry and government so that personalinformation is often readily available. In contrast, the EuropeanUnion (EU) and others have adopted an alternative vision highlightingconsumer protection and individual privacy against the economicinterests of firms and public officials. This latter modeldeveloped from comprehensive rules about data privacy enacted in theEU’s Data Protection Directive in 1995, now adopted in some formby all 27 EU nations. European-style privacy protectionregulations have spread rapidly across the industrial world, with theUnited States as a major exception, and have transformed and led theglobal privacy debate, while the US has relied on a more laissez-fairementality about protection of personal information and a patchwork ofprivacy guidelines. This patchwork includes privacy regulationson student records, video rentals, the Children’s Online PrivacyProtection Act (COPPA, 2000), the Health Insurance Portability andAccountability Act (HIPPA, 2006) and more.

The European Union empowered individual privacy commissioners orgroup agencies that had technical expertise, were given governmentalauthority, and were able to form political coalitions to lobbysuccessfully for enhanced individual privacy protection, requiring thatpersonal information not be collected or used for purposes other thanthose initially intended without individual consent, and so on.This contrasts sharply with the American approach allowing entitiessuch as insurance companies and employers ample access to personalinformation not covered by the separate privacy guidelines, given alack of governmental support for more comprehensive privacy legislationand a more fragmented political system. The US has generallystood behind efficiency arguments that business and government needunfettered access to personal data to guarantee economic growth andnational security, whereas the EU has sent a coherent signal thatprivacy has critical value in a robust information society becausecitizens will only participate in an online environment if they feeltheir privacy is guaranteed against ubiquitous business and governmentsurveillance.

1.2 The Constitutional Right to Privacy

In 1965 a quite different right to privacy, independent ofinformational privacy and the Fourth Amendment, was recognizedexplicitly by the Supreme Court. It is now commonly called theconstitutional right to privacy. The right was first announced in theGriswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479) case, which overturnedconvictions of the Director of Planned Parenthood and a doctor at YaleMedical School for dispersing contraceptive related information,instruction, and medical advice to married persons. The constitutionalright to privacy was described by Justice William O. Douglas asprotecting a zone of privacy covering the social institution ofmarriage and the sexual relations of married persons. Despitecontroversy over Douglas’ opinion, the constitutional privacy rightwas soon cited to overturn a ban against interracial marriage, toallow individuals to possess obscene matter in their own homes, and toallow distribution of contraceptive devices to individuals, bothmarried and single. The most famous application of this right toprivacy was as one justification of abortion rights defended in 1973in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113) and subsequent decisions onabortion. While Douglas vaguely called it a “penumbral”right “emanating” from the Constitution, and the Court hasbeen unable to clearly define the right, it has generally been viewedas a right protecting one’s individual interest in independence inmaking certain important and personal decisions about one’s family,life and lifestyle. Which personal decisions have been protected bythis privacy right has varied depending on the makeup of the Court. In1986 inBowers v. Hardwick (478 U.S. 186) privacy was not held tocover a ban on anti-sodomy laws in Georgia, despite the intimate sexualrelations involved.

Criticism of the constitutional right to privacy has continued,particularly in the popular press, Roe v. Wade may be injeopardy, and many viewed the Bowers decision as evidence ofthe demise of the constitutional right to privacy. Yet in 2003 inLawrence v. Texas (538 U.S. 918), the Supreme Court ruled5–4 that a Texas statute making it a crime for two people of thesame sex to engage in certain intimate behavior violated the guaranteeof equal protection and vital interests in liberty and privacyprotected by the due process clause of the Constitution, thusoverruling Bowers v. Hardwick. Jean L. Cohen (2002) gives atheoretical defense of this inclusive view of the constitutional rightto privacy. She defends a constructivist approach to privacy rightsand intimacy, arguing that privacy rights protect personal autonomyand that a constitutionally protected right to privacy isindispensable for a modern conception of reason and her interpretationof autonomy. Currently many non U.S. countries protect interests inwhat is now called constitutional privacy, without the controversythat is somewhat more common in the U.S. For example, constitutionalprivacy has been used in the U.S. to strike down anti-sodomy laws, andto protect individual choice of one’s marriage partner. InEurope many countries now protect same sex marriage, such as theNetherlands for over 10 years and more recently Germany since2017.

1.3 Reductionism vs. Coherentism

One way of understanding the growing literature on privacy is toview it as divided into two main categories, which we may callreductionism and coherentism. Reductionists aregenerally critical of privacy, while coherentists defend the coherentfundamental value of privacy interests. Ferdinand Schoeman (1984)introduced somewhat different terminology which makes it easier tounderstand this distinction. According to Schoeman, a number ofauthors have believed

…there is something fundamental, integrated, anddistinctive about the concerns traditionally grouped together underthe rubric of “privacy issues.” In opposing this position,some have argued that the cases labeled “privacy issues”are diverse and disparate, and hence are only nominally orsuperficially connected. Others have argued that when privacy claimsare to be defended morally, the justifications must allude ultimatelyto principles which can be characterized quite independently of anyconcern with privacy. Consequently, the argument continues, there isnothing morally distinctive about privacy. I shall refer to theposition that there is something common to most of the privacy claimsas the “coherence thesis.” The position that privacyclaims are to be defended morally by principles that are distinctiveto privacy I shall label the “distinctiveness thesis.”

Theorists who deny both the coherence thesis and the distinctivenessthesis argue that in each category of privacy claims there are diversevalues at stake of the sort common to many other social issues and thatthese values exhaust privacy claims. The thrust of this complexposition is that we could do quite well if we eliminated all talk ofprivacy and simply defended our concerns in terms of standard moral andlegal categories (Schoeman 1984, 5).

These latter theorists, who reject both Schoeman’s coherence thesisand distinctiveness thesis, may be referred to asreductionists, for they view what are called privacy concernsas analyzable or reducible to claims of other sorts, such as inflictionof emotional distress or property interests. They deny that there isanything useful in considering privacy as a separate concept. Theyconclude, then, that there is nothing coherent, distinctive orilluminating about privacy interests.

On the other side, more theorists have argued that there issomething fundamental and distinctive and coherent about the variousclaims that have been called privacy interests. On this view, privacyhas value as a coherent and fundamental concept, and most individualsrecognize it as a useful concept as well. Those who endorse this viewmay be called coherentists. Nevertheless, it is important torecognize that coherentists have quite diverse, and sometimesoverlapping, views on what it is that is distinctive about privacy andwhat links diverse privacy claims.

2. Critiques of Privacy

2.1 Thomson’s Reductionism


Probably the most famous reductionist view of privacy is one fromJudith Jarvis Thomson (1975). Noting that there is little agreement onwhat privacy is, Thomson examines a number of cases that have beenthought to be violations of the right to privacy. On closerinspection, however, Thomson believes all those cases can beadequately and equally well explained in terms of violations ofproperty rights or rights over the person, such as a right not to belistened to. Ultimately the right to privacy, on Thomson’s view,is merely a cluster of rights. Those rights in the cluster are alwaysoverlapped by, and can be fully explained by, property rights orrights to bodily security. The right to privacy, on her view, is“derivative” in the sense that there is no need to findwhat is common in the cluster of privacy rights. Privacy is derivativein its importance and justification, according to Thomson, as anyprivacy violation is better understood as the violation of a morebasic right. Numerous commentators provide strong arguments againstThomson’s critique (Scanlon, 1975; Inness, 1992).

2.2 Posner’s Economic Critique

Richard Posner (1981) also presents a critical account of privacy,arguing that the kinds of interests protected under privacy are notdistinctive. Moreover, his account is unique because he argues thatprivacy is protected in ways that are economically inefficient. Withrespect to information, on Posner’s view privacy should only beprotected when access to the information would reduce its value (e.g.allowing students access to their letters of recommendation make thoseletters less reliable and thus less valuable, and hence they shouldremain confidential or private). Focusing on privacy as control overinformation about oneself, Posner argues that concealment or selectivedisclosure of information is usually to mislead or manipulate others,or for private economic gain, and thus protection of individual privacyis less defensible than others have thought because it does notmaximize wealth. In sum, Posner defends organizational or corporateprivacy as more important than personal privacy, because the former islikely to enhance the economy.

2.3 Bork’s View

Another strong critic of privacy is Robert Bork (1990), whosecriticism is aimed at the constitutional right to privacy establishedby the Supreme Court in 1965. Bork views the Griswold v.Connecticut decision as an attempt by the Supreme Court to take aside on a social and cultural issue, and as an example of badconstitutional law. Bork’s attack is focused on Justice WilliamO. Douglas and his majority opinionin Griswold. Bork’s major point is that Douglas did notderive the right to privacy from some pre-existing right or fromnatural law, but merely created a new right to privacy with nofoundation in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Bork is correctthat the word “privacy” never appears in thosedocuments. Douglas had argued, however, that the right to privacycould be seen to be based on guarantees from the First, Third, Fourth,Fifth, and Ninth Amendments. Taken together, the protections affordedby these Amendments showed that a basic zone of privacy was protectedfor citizens, and that it covered their ability to make personaldecisions about their home and family life. In contrast, Bork arguesi) that none of the Amendments cited covered the case before theCourt, ii) that the Supreme Court never articulated or clarified whatthe right to privacy was or how far it extended, and he charges iii)that the privacy right merely protected what a majority of justicespersonally wanted it to cover. In sum, he accuses Douglas and theCourt majority of inventing a new right, and thus overstepping theirbounds as judges by making new law, not interpreting the law.Bork’s views continue to be defended by others, in politics andin the popular press.

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Theorists including William Parent (1983) and Judith Thomson (1975)argue that the constitutional right to privacy is not really a privacyright, but is more aptly described as a right to liberty. Othercommentators believe, to the contrary, that even if Douglas’ opinion isflawed in its defense, using vague language about a penumbral privacyright emanating from the Constitution and its Amendments, there isnevertheless a historically and conceptually coherent notion ofprivacy, distinct from liberty, carved out by the constitutionalprivacy cases (Inness, 1992; Schoeman, 1992; Johnson, 1994; DeCew,1997).

In response to Bork’s complaint that constitutional privacyprotection is not at all about privacy but only concerns liberty orautonomy, it has been successfully argued that while we have multipleindividual liberties such as freedom of expression, many do not seem tobe about anything particularly personal or related to the types ofconcerns we might be willing and able to see as privacy issues.If so, then liberty is a broader concept than privacy and privacyissues and claims are a subset of claims to liberty. In supportof this view, philosophical and legal commentators have urged thatprivacy protects liberty, and that privacy protection gains for us thefreedom to define ourselves and our relations to others (Allen, 2011;DeCew, 1997; Reiman, 1976, 2004; Schoeman, 1984, 1992).

A moving account supporting this view—understanding privacy as anecessary and an indispensable condition for freedom—comes fromliterature, here a quotation from Milan Kundera.

But one day in 1970 or 1971, with the intent to discreditProchazka, the police began to broadcast these conversations [withProfessor Vaclav Cerny, with whom he liked to drink and talk] as aradio serial. For the police it was an audacious, unprecedentedact. And, surprisingly: it nearly succeeded; instantly Prochazkawas discredited: because in private, a person says all sortsof things, slurs friends, uses coarse language, acts silly, tells dirtyjokes, repeats himself, makes a companion laugh by shocking him withoutrageous talk, floats heretical ideas he’d never admit inpublic, and so forth. Of course, we all act like Prochazka, inprivate we bad-mouth our friends and use coarse language; that we actdifferent in private than in public is everyone’s mostconspicuous experience, it is the very ground of the life of theindividual; curiously, this obvious fact remains unconscious,unacknowledged, forever obscured by lyrical dreams of the transparentglass house, it is rarely understood to be the value one must defendbeyond all others. Thus only gradually did people realize (thoughtheir rage was all the greater) that the real scandal was notProchazka’s daring talk but the rape of his life; they realized(as if by electric shock) that private and public are two essentiallydifferent worlds and that respect for that difference is theindispensable condition, the sine qua non, for a man to live free; thatthe curtain separating these two worlds is not to be tampered with, andthat curtain-rippers are criminals. And because thecurtain-rippers were serving a hated regime, they were unanimously heldto be particularly contemptible criminals. (Kundera, 1984,261)

It is not difficult to see the analogies between Kundera’sscenario and electronic surveillance and street cameras common insociety today. There is more detailed evidence that privacy andliberty are distinct concepts, that liberty is a broader notion, andthat privacy is essential for protecting liberty. We have manyforms of liberty that do not appear to have anything to do with what wemight value as private and inappropriate for government interventionfor personal reasons. The right to travel from state to statewithout a passport, for example, seems to be a freedom far differentfrom freedom to make decisions about personal and intimate concernsabout one’s body – such as contraception use, abortionchoice, sterilization (Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 1927) andvasectomies (Skinner v, Oklahoma 316 U.S. 535, 1942, strikingdown a statute mandating sterilizations for those who commit threefelonies). It is clear that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognizedthis by saying that the constitutional privacy cases are about a secondinterest in privacy, namely an “individual interest in makingcertain kinds of important decisions” (Whalen v. Roe,429 U.S. 589, 1977).

2.4 The Feminist Critique of Privacy

There is no single version of the feminist critique of privacy, yet itcan be said in general that many feminists worry about the darker sideof privacy, and the use of privacy as a shield to cover up domination,degradation and abuse of women and others. Many tend to focus on theprivate as opposed to the public, rather than merely informational orconstitutional privacy. If distinguishing public and private realmsleaves the private domain free from any scrutiny, then these feministssuch as Catharine MacKinnon (1989) are correct that privacy can bedangerous for women when it is used to cover up repression andphysical harm to them by perpetuating the subjection of women in thedomestic sphere and encouraging nonintervention by the state. JeanBethke Elshtain (1981, 1995) and others suggest that it appearsfeminists such as MacKinnon are for this reason rejecting thepublic/private split, and are, moreover, recommending that feministsand others jettison or abandon privacy altogether. But, Elshtainpoints out, this alternative seems too extreme.

A more reasonable view, according to Anita Allen (1988), is torecognize that while privacy can be a shield for abuse, it isunacceptable to reject privacy completely based on harm done inprivate. A total rejection of privacy makes everything public, andleaves the domestic sphere open to complete scrutiny and intrusion bythe state. Yet women surely have an interest in privacy that canprotect them from state imposed sterilization programs or governmentimposed drug tests for pregnant women mandating results sent to police,for instance, and that can provide reasonable regulations such asgranting rights against marital rape. Thus collapsing thepublic/private dichotomy into a single public realm is inadequate. Whatpuzzles feminists is how to make sense of an important and valuablenotion of privacy that provides them a realm free from scrutiny andintervention by the state, without reverting to the traditionalpublic/private dichotomy that has in the past relegated women to theprivate and domestic sphere where they are victims of abuse andsubjection. The challenge is to find a way for the state to take veryseriously the domestic abuse that used to be allowed in the name ofprivacy, while also preventing the state from insinuating itself intoall the most intimate parts of women’s lives. This means drawing newboundaries for justified state intervention and thus understanding thepublic/private distinction in new ways.

3. Views on the Meaning and Value of Privacy

3.1 Privacy and Control over Information

Narrow views of privacy focusing on control over information aboutoneself that were defended by Warren and Brandeis and by WilliamProsser are also endorsed by more recent commentators including Fried(1970) and Parent (1983). In addition, Alan Westin describes privacyas the ability to determine for ourselves when, how, and to whatextent information about us is communicated to others (Westin,1967). Perhaps the best example of a contemporary defense of this viewis put forth by William Parent. Parent explains that he proposes todefend a view of privacy that is consistent with ordinary language anddoes not overlap or confuse the basic meanings of other fundamentalterms. He defines privacy as the condition of not having undocumentedpersonal information known or possessed by others. Parent stressesthat he is defining the condition of privacy, as a moral value forpeople who prize individuality and freedom, and not a moral or legalright to privacy. Personal information is characterized by Parent asfactual (otherwise it would be covered by libel, slander ordefamation), and these are facts that most persons choose not toreveal about themselves, such as facts about health, salary, weight,sexual orientation, etc. Personal information is documented, onParent’s view, only when it belongs to the public record, that is, innewspapers, court records, or other public documents. Thus, onceinformation becomes part of a public record, there is no privacyinvasion in future releases of the information, even years later or toa wide audience, nor does snooping or surveillance intrude on privacyif no undocumented information is gained. In cases where no newinformation is acquired, Parent views the intrusion as irrelevant toprivacy, and better understood as an abridgment of anonymity,trespass, or harassment. Furthermore, what has been described aboveas the constitutional right to privacy, is viewed by Parent as betterunderstood as an interest in liberty, not privacy. In sum, there is aloss of privacy on Parent’s view, only when others acquireundocumented personal information about an individual. DeCew (1997)gives a detailed critique of Parent’s position. Although Parent’sdefinition is valuable because he does view privacy as a coherentconcept with unique and fundamental value, it is problematic forseveral reasons. It is too narrow an account because he only allowsfor a descriptive and not a normative use of the term. As anotherexample, if personal information is part of the public record, eventhe most insidious snooping to attain it does not constitute a privacyinvasion. DeCew (1997) and Scanlon (1975, 317) discuss otherdifficulties with Parent’s view as well.

3.2 Privacy and Human Dignity

In an article written mainly as a defense of Warren and Brandeis’paper and as a response to William Prosser, Edward J. Bloustein (1964)argues that there is a common thread in the diverse legal casesprotecting privacy. According to Bloustein, Warren and Brandeis failedto give a positive description of privacy, however they were correctthat there was a single value connecting the privacy interests, avalue they called “inviolate personality.” On Bloustein’sview it is possible to give a general theory of individual privacythat reconciles its divergent strands, and “inviolatepersonality” is the social value protected by privacy. Itdefines one’s essence as a human being and it includes individualdignity and integrity, personal autonomy and independence. Respect forthese values is what grounds and unifies the concept ofprivacy. Discussing each of Prosser’s four types of privacy rights inturn, Bloustein defends the view that each of these privacy rights isimportant because it protects against intrusions demeaning topersonality and against affronts to human dignity. Using thisanalysis, Bloustein explicitly links the privacy rights in tort lawdescribed by Prosser with privacy protection under the FourthAmendment. He urges that both leave an individual open to scrutiny ina way that leaves one’s autonomy and sense of oneself as a personvulnerable, violating one’s human dignity and moral personality. Thecommon conceptual thread linking diverse privacy cases prohibitingdissemination of confidential information, eavesdropping,surveillance, and wiretapping, to name a few, is the value ofprotection against injury to individual freedom and human dignity.Invasion of privacy is best understood, in sum, as affront to humandignity. Although Bloustein admits the terms are somewhat vague, hedefends this analysis as conceptually coherent and illuminating.

3.3 Privacy and Intimacy

A more common view has been to argue that privacy and intimacy aredeeply related. On one account, privacy is valuable because intimacywould be impossible without it (Fried, 1970; Gerety 1977; Gerstein,1978; Cohen, 2002). Fried, for example, defines privacy narrowly ascontrol over information about oneself. He extends this definition,however, arguing that privacy has intrinsic value, and is necessarilyrelated to and fundamental for one’s development as an individual witha moral and social personality able to form intimate relationshipsinvolving respect, love, friendship and trust. Privacy is valuablebecause it allows one control over information about oneself, whichallows one to maintain varying degrees of intimacy. Indeed, love,friendship and trust are only possible if persons enjoy privacy andaccord it to each other. Privacy is essential for such relationshipson Fried’s view, and this helps explain why a threat to privacy is athreat to our very integrity as persons. By characterizing privacy asa necessary context for love, friendship and trust, Fried is basinghis account on a moral conception of persons and their personalities,on a Kantian notion of the person with basic rights and the need todefine and pursue one’s own values free from the impingement ofothers. Privacy allows one the freedom to define one’s relations withothers and to define oneself. In this way, privacy is also closelyconnected with respect and self respect.

Gerstein (1978) argues as well that privacy is necessary forintimacy, and intimacy in communication and interpersonal relationshipsis required for us to fully experience our lives. Intimacy withoutintrusion or observation is required for us to have experiences withspontaneity and without shame. Shoeman (1984) endorses these views andstresses that privacy provides a way to control intimate informationabout oneself and that has many other benefits, not only forrelationships with others, but also for the development of one’spersonality and inner self. Julie Inness (1992) has identified intimacyas the defining feature of intrusions properly called privacyinvasions. Inness argues that intimacy is based not on behavior, but onmotivation. She believes that intimate information or activity isthat which draws its meaning from love, liking, or care. It is privacythat protects one’s ability to retain intimate information and activityso that one can fulfill one’s needs of loving and caring.

3.4 Privacy and Social Relationships

A number of commentators defend views of privacy that link closelywith accounts stressing privacy as required for intimacy, emphasizingnot just intimacy but also more generally the importance of developingdiverse interpersonal relationships with others. Rachels (1975)acknowledges there is no single answer to the question why privacy isimportant to us, because it can be necessary to protect one’s assetsor interests, or to protect one from embarrassment, or to protect oneagainst the deleterious consequences of information leaks, to namejust a few. Nevertheless, he explicitly criticizes Thomson’sreductionist view, and urges that privacy is a distinctive right. Onhis view, privacy is necessary to maintain a variety of socialrelationships, not just intimate ones. Privacy accords us the abilityto control who knows what about us and who has access to us, andthereby allows us to vary our behavior with different people so thatwe may maintain and control our various social relationships, many ofwhich will not be intimate. An intriguing part of Rachels’ analysis ofprivacy is that it emphasizes ways in which privacy is not merelylimited to control over information. Our ability to control bothinformation and access to us allows us to control our relationshipswith others. Hence privacy is also connected to our behavior andactivities.

3.5 Privacy and Restricted Access

Another group of theorists characterize privacy in terms of access.Some commentators describe privacy as exclusive access of a person toa realm of his or her own, and Sissela Bok (1982) argues that privacyprotects us from unwanted access by others — either physicalaccess or personal information or attention. Ruth Gavison (1980)defends this more expansive view of privacy in greater detail, arguingthat interests in privacy are related to concerns over accessibilityto others, that is, what others know about us, the extent to whichthey have physical access to us, and the extent to which we are thesubject of the attention of others. Thus the concept of privacy isbest understood as a concern for limited accessibility and one hasperfect privacy when one is completely inaccessible to others. Privacycan be gained in three independent but interrelated ways: throughsecrecy, when no one has information about one, through anonymity,when no one pays attention to one, and through solitude, when no onehas physical access to one. Gavison’s view is that the concept ofprivacy is this complex of concepts all part of the notion ofaccessibility. Furthermore, the concept is also coherent because ofthe related functions privacy has, namely “the promotion ofliberty, autonomy, selfhood, human relations, and furthering theexistence of a free society” (Gavison 1980, 347).

Carefully reviewing these various views, Anita Allen (1988) alsocharacterizes privacy as denoting a degree of inaccessibility ofpersons, their mental states, and information about them to the sensesand surveillance of others. She views seclusion, solitude, secrecy,confidentiality, and anonymity as forms of privacy. She also urges thatprivacy is required by the liberal ideals of personhood, and theparticipation of citizens as equals. While her view appears to besimilar to Gavison’s, Allen suggests her restricted access view isbroader than Gavison’s. This is in part because Allen emphasizes thatin public and private women experience privacy losses that are uniqueto their gender. Noting that privacy is neither a presumptive moralevil nor an unquestionable moral good, Allen nevertheless defends moreextensive privacy protection for women in morality and the law. Usingexamples such as sexual harassment, victim anonymity in rape cases, andreproductive freedom, Allen emphasizes the moral significance ofextending privacy protection for women. In some ways her account can beviewed as one reply to the feminist critique of privacy, allowing thatprivacy can be a shield for abuse, but can also be so valuable forwomen that privacy protection should be enhanced, not diminished.

Most recently, Adam Moore (2003), building on the views of Gavison,Allen and others, offers a “control over access” accountof privacy. According to Moore, privacy is a culturally and speciesrelative right to a level of control over access to bodies or placesand information. While defending the view that privacy is relative tospecies and culture, Moore argues that privacy is objectively valuable— human beings that do not obtain a certain level of controlover access will suffer in various ways. Moore claims that privacy,like education, health, and maintaining social relationships, is anessential part of human flourishing or well-being.

3.6 The Scope of Privacy

There is a further issue that has generated disagreement, even amongthose theorists who believe privacy is a coherent concept. Thequestion is whether or not the constitutional right to privacy, andthe constitutional privacy cases described involving personaldecisions about lifestyle and family including birth control,interracial marriage, viewing pornography at home, abortion, and soon, delineate a genuine category of privacy issues, or merely raisequestions about liberty of some sort. Parent (1983) explicitlyexcludes concerns about one’s ability to make certain importantpersonal decisions about one’s family and lifestyle as genuine privacyissues, saying the constitutional right to privacy cases focus solelyon liberty. Among the others who take this view are Henkin (1974),Thomson (1975), Gavison (1980), and Bork (1990). Allen (1988) definesprivacy in terms of access and excludes from her definition protectionof individual autonomous choice from governmental interference, whichshe terms a form of liberty. Yet she refers to this latter protectionas “decisional privacy” and says determining its categoryis purely a definitional point and one of labels. Ultimately shebelieves interference with decisions involving procreation andsexuality raise the same moral concerns as other privacy intrusions,offending the values of personhood. The Supreme Court now claims(Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 1977) that there are twodifferent dimensions to privacy: both control over information aboutoneself and control over one’s ability to make certain important typesof decisions.

Following this sort of reasoning, a number of theorists defend theview that privacy has broad scope, inclusive of the multiple types ofprivacy issues described by the Court, even though there is no simpledefinition of privacy. Most of these theorists explore the linksbetween the types of privacy interests and the similarity of reasonsfor valuing each. Some stress that privacy is necessary for one todevelop a concept of self as a purposeful, self determining agent.Privacy enables control over personal information as well as controlover our bodies and personal choices for our concept of self (Kupfer,1987). Some emphasize the importance of intimacy for all privacyissues, noting the need for privacy to protect intimate informationabout oneself, access to oneself, as well as intimate relationshipsand decisions about one’s actions (Inness, 1992). Some focus on theimportance of privacy norms that allow one to restrict others’ accessto them as well as privacy norms that enable and enhance personalexpression and the development of relationships. Privacy providesprotection against overreaching social control by others through theiraccess to information or their control over decision making (Schoeman,1992). Some defend a “control over access” account ofprivacy that includes control over access to bodies as part of theconcept of privacy along with access to places and information (Moore,2003). Others suggest that privacy is best understood as a clusterconcept covering interests in i) control over information aboutoneself, ii) control over access to oneself, both physical and mental,and iii) control over one’s ability to make important decisions aboutfamily and lifestyle in order to be self expressive and to developvaried relationships (DeCew, 1997). These three interests are relatedbecause in each of the three contexts threats of information leaks,threats of control over our bodies, and threats to our power to makeour own choices about our lifestyles and activities all make usvulnerable and fearful that we are being scrutinized, pressured ortaken advantage of by others. Privacy has moral value because itshields us in all three contexts by providing certain freedom andindependence — freedom from scrutiny, prejudice, pressure toconform, exploitation, and the judgment of others.

Yet it has been difficult for philosophers to provide clearguidelines on the positive side of understanding just what privacyprotects and why it is important. There has been consensus thatthe significance of privacy is almost always justified for theindividual interests it protects: personal information, personalspaces, and personal choices, protection of freedom and autonomy in aliberal democratic society. (Allen, 2011; Moore, 2010; Reiman 2004;Roessler, 2005). Schoeman (1992) eloquently defended theimportance of privacy for protection of self-expression and socialfreedom. More recent literature has extended this view and hasfocused on the value of privacy not merely for the individual interestsit protects, but also for its irreducibly social value. Concernsover the accessibility and retention of electronic communications andthe expansion of camera surveillance have led commentators to focusattention on loss of individual privacy as well as privacy protectionwith respect to the state and society (Reiman, 2004; Solove, 2008;Nissenbaum, 2010).

Priscilla Regan writes, for example, “I argue that privacy isnot only of value to the individual, but also to society ingeneral….Privacy is a common value in that allindividuals value some degree of privacy and have some commonperceptions about privacy. Privacy is also a public value inthat it has value not just to the individual as an individual or toall individuals in common but also to the democratic politicalsystem. Privacy is rapidly becoming a collective value inthat technology and market forces are making it hard for any oneperson to have privacy without all persons having a similar minimumlevel of privacy” (Regan, 1995, 213). According to DanielSolove, “By understanding privacy as shaped by the norms ofsociety, we can better see why privacy should not be understood solelyas an individual right…. Instead, privacy protects theindividual because of the benefits it confers on society.”Moreover, “the value of privacy should be understood in terms ofits contribution to society” (Solove, 2008, 98, 171fn.). Solovebelieves privacy fosters and encourages the moral autonomy ofcitizens, a central requirement of governance in a democracy. One wayof understanding these comments, that privacy not only has intrinsicand extrinsic value to individuals but also has instrumental value tosociety, is to recognize that these views develop from the earlierphilosophical writings (Fried 1970; Rachels, 1975; Schoeman; 1984,1992) on the value of privacy in that it heightens respect forindividual autonomy in decision-making for self-development andindividual integrity and human dignity, but also enhances the value ofprivacy in various social roles and relationships that contribute to afunctioning society. According to this contemporary scholarship,privacy norms help regulate social relationships such as intimaterelations, family relationships, professional relationships includingthose between a physician and a patient, a lawyer or accountant and aclient, a teacher and a student, and so on. Thus privacy enhancessocial interaction on a variety of levels. According to Solove, asociety without respect for privacy for oneself and others becomes a“suffocating society” (Solove 2008; see also Kundera,1984).

3.7 Is Privacy Relative?

Schoeman (1984) points out that the question of whether or not privacyis culturally relative can be interpreted in two ways. One question iswhether privacy is deemed valuable to all peoples or whether its valueis relative to cultural differences. A second question is whether ornot there are any aspects of life that are inherently private and notjust conventionally so. Most writers have come to agree that whilealmost all cultures appear to value privacy, cultures differ in theirways of seeking and obtaining privacy, and probably do differ in thelevel they value privacy (Westin, 1967; Rachels, 1975). Allen (1988)and Moore (2003) are especially sensitive to the ways obligations fromdifferent cultures affect perceptions of privacy. There has been farless agreement on the second question. Some argue that mattersrelating to one’s innermost self are inherently private, butcharacterizing this realm more succinctly and less vaguely hasremained an elusive task. Thus it may well be that one of thedifficulties in defining the realm of the private is that privacy is anotion that is strongly culturally relative, contingent on suchfactors as economics as well as technology available in a givencultural domain.

4. Privacy and Technology

The earliest arguments by Warren and Brandeis for explicit recognitionof privacy protection in law were in large part motivated by expandingcommunication technology such as the development of widely distributednewspapers and multiply printed reproductions ofphotographs. Similarly Fourth Amendment protection against search andseizure was extended later in the twentieth century to cover telephonewiretaps and electronic surveillance. It is clear that many peoplestill view privacy is a valuable interest and realize it is nowthreatened more than ever by technological advances. There are massivedatabases and Internet records of information about individualfinancial and credit history, medical records, purchases and telephonecalls, for example, and most people do not know what information isstored about them or who has access to it. The ability for others toaccess and link the databases, with few controls on how they use,share, or exploit the information, makes individual control overinformation about oneself more difficult than ever before.

Make Sentence Of Ought To Have Been

There are numerous other cases of the clash between privacy andtechnology. Consider the following new technologies. Caller ID,originally designed to protect people from unwanted calls fromharassers, telemarketers, etc., involves privacy concerns for both thecaller and the called. There is widespread mandatory and random drugtesting of employees and others, and the Supreme Court has saidpolicies requiring all middle and high school students to consent todrug testing in order to participate in extracurricular activitiesdoes not violate the Fourth Amendment, although the Court hasdisallowed mandatory drug tests on pregnant women for use by police.It had seemed that heat sensors aimed at and through walls to detectsuch things as growing marijuana would be acceptable. However in 2001in Kyllo v. U.S. (533 U.S. 27), another close 5–4decision, the Court decided that thermal imaging devices that revealinformation previously unknowable without a warrant does constitute aviolation of privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment. Surveillancephotos are commonly taken of those using Fast Lane, resulting intickets mailed to speeding offenders, and similar photos are now takenat red lights in San Diego and elsewhere, leading to surprisetickets. Face scanning in Tampa, at casinos, and at large sportingevents such as the Super Bowl, matches those photos with databaserecords of felons, resulting in the capture of multiple offenders onthe loose but also posing privacy issues for other innocentsphotographed without their knowledge. Some rental car drivers are nowtracked by Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, enabling carrental companies, not police, to levy stiff fines forspeeding. Immigration officials in Australia are considering proposalsto tag asylum seekers with electronic trackers before sending theminto the community to await hearings. The media has recently uncoveredan FBI Web surveillance system called Carnivore, that appears tosample the communications of as many Internet users as it chooses, notjust suspects. Echelon is a covert global satellite network said tohave the ability to intercept all phone, fax, and e-mail messages inthe world, and may have up to 20 international listeningposts. Airline passengers will soon be able to go through customs witha two second biometric scan that confirms identity by mapping the irisof the eye, and U.S. airlines are considering using “smartcards” which will identify passengers by theirfingerprints. There is a proliferation of biometric identificationusing faces, eyes, fingerprints, and other body parts for identifyingspecific individuals, and the technology for matching the informationwith other databases is advancing quickly. Anton Alterman (2003)discusses various privacy and ethical issues arising from expandinguse of biometric identification. For more on some of the other issuesnoted above, see other articles inEthics and Information Technology 5, 3 (2003).

For some cases in the clash between privacy and advancingtechnologies, it is possible to make a compelling argument foroverriding the privacy intrusions. Drug and alcohol tests for airlinepilots on the job seem completely justifiable in the name of publicsafety, for example. With the development of new and moresophisticated technology, however, recent work on privacy is examiningthe ways in which respect for privacy can be balanced with justifiableuses of emerging technology (Agre and Rotenberg, 1997; Austin, 2003;Brin, 1998; Etzioni, 1999, and Ethics and InformationTechnology, 6, 1, 2004). Daniel Solove (2006) takes seriously thecriticism that privacy suffers from an embarrassment of meanings andthe concern that new technologies have given rise to a panoply of newprivacy harms. He then endeavors to guide the law toward a morecoherent understanding of privacy, by developing a taxonomy toidentify a wide range of privacy problems comprehensively andcompletely. Moore argues that privacy claims should carry more weightwhen in conflict with other social values and interests. For example,he defends the view that employee agreements that undermine employeeprivacy should be viewed with suspicion, and he argues that laws andlegislation prohibiting the genetic modification of humans willunjustifiably trample individual privacy rights (Moore, 2000). He alsodefends the view that free speech and expression should not be viewedas more important than privacy (Moore, 1998). Clearly, in the wake ofthe terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the literature on privacyincreasingly focuses on how to balance privacy concerns with the needfor public safety in an age of terrorism. Moore (2000) argues thatviews which trade privacy for security typically strike the wrongbalance and in many cases undermine both (Moore, 2000). Etzioni andMarsh (2003) provide a varied collection of essays on balancing rightsand public safety after 9/11, highlighting views about where thegovernment will need to expand its authority in fighting the waragainst terrorism, and where it risks overreaching itsauthority. Revisions to the U.S. Patriot Act and the extent to whichthere have been increases in surreptitious electronic surveillancewithout court-issued warrants in violation of the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act (FISA) will lead to further debates on the importanceof privacy protection versus governmental power post 9/11. A morerecent example is Edward Snowden’s unauthorized acquisition ofprivileged National Security Agency (NSA) information and his furtherbreach of sharing the information without permission. (Some view himas a hero, others as a traitor.) Although the government needs strongpowers to protect its citizens, the executive branch also needs toprovide a strong voice on behalf of civil liberties and individualrights, including privacy.

4.1 The Social Dimension of Privacy

As writers continue to be especially concerned with privacy andtechnology, and how it affects all citizens, there is increasingconcern with the social dimension of privacy which was firstintroduced at the end of section 3.6 above. For more contemporaryessays on this topic, a new anthology edited by Beate Roessler andDorota Mokrosinska, Social Dimensions of Privacy:Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2015) is a follow up toSchoeman’s famous 1984 Philosophical Dimensions of Privacy:An Anthology, but emphasizing topics on the social dimensions ofprivacy. Roessler and Mokrosinska realize that technologicaldevelopments have inspired a lively debate on data and privacy,because privacy is a central lens through which to view protection ofindividual liberty and autonomy in liberal democratic societies. Whatis new is the worrisome development of privacy-invasive technologiesthat intrude on both individuals and society. Regan (1995), Solove(2008) and Nissenbaum (2010) took the first steps in analyzing thesocial dimensions and value of privacy in a democratic society, butare now, along with others in this volume (2015), focusing on the roleof privacy in political and social practice, in law, in media andcommunication, in health care, and in the marketplace. Privacyconcerns are also arising in new disciplines beyond philosophy, lawand political science, reaching into the health sciences, engineering,media studies, sociology and information sciences. Thus Roessler andMokrosinska have encouraged further work on recent controversies inthese different domains of social life, exploring the ways in whichthe emphasis on the social relevance of privacy helps try to resolvethem. They also urged contributors to address challenges that arisefor the social dimension of privacy given the increasing regulation ofprivacy.


Thus, for example, Gary Marx, Regan and Solove discuss the socialmeaning and value of privacy, and DeCew and Moore assess thepublic/private boundary in the family, given that family conventionsare among the most crucial for this primary human socializationsetting (Roessler and Mokrosinska, 2015). As another example,Roessler and Mokrosinska themselves, along with Jeroen van den Hoven,Annabelle Lever and others address genetic data, markets in personaldata, and privacy as a political value, especially given the tensionbetween the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Other papersin this cluster look at Internet surveillance and the democratic roleof privacy and social media. While posing many questions, theseessays isolate the central dilemmas that arise when addressing privacyin social contexts and when groups, not merely individuals, have astake in the regulation of privacy (Roessler and Mokrosinska, 2015).Finally, a third group of essays in this volume help readersunderstand privacy regulations in the European Union and Canada.Anita Allen emphasizes the limitations of privacy regulations inhealth care, and the discrimination and disadvantages theseregulations lead to for people of color and women. Others discussboth the combination and maze of privacy regulations at the federallevel in the U.S., across states, and within different privacylegislation bodies. For current privacy controversies in these newtechnical areas, there may be few concrete answers about the best wayto answer particular questions arising from the clash between privacyand other important values. Nevertheless, “the authors havetaken privacy research an important step further and have demonstratedthat the recognition of the social dimensions of privacy should play acentral role in the way we understand privacy and approach currentprivacy controversies” (Roessler and Mokrosinska, 7).

4.2 Privacy and Conflicts with Other Values

As debate has expanded over privacy and advancing technology, anotherrecent anthology has made important contributions to theliterature. Privacy, Security and Accountability: Ethics, Law andPolicy edited by Adam D. Moore (2016) ushers in a cogentarticulation and defense of privacy even when privacy seems toconflict with other important values. For example, new technologiesallowing increased data mining, re-identification of anonymized datasets, heat-sensing cameras, license-plate readers, predictiveanalytics and facial recognition technology can all expose informationwe thought was protected as private to become more public than we hadever imagined. These technologies and others can make us worry aboutthe moral, legal and social foundations and interrelationships betweenprivacy, security and accountability. Moore and his co-author for the“Introduction”, Michael Katell, use a control-baseddefinition of privacy, that “A right to privacy is a right tocontrol access to, and uses of, places, bodies, and personalinformation” (Moore, 3), urging that “the ability tocontrol access to our bodies, capacities, and powers, and to sensitivepersonal information, is an essential part of human flourishing orwell-being” (Moore, 5). Security basically provides individualswith control over their lives, projects and property, and to be freefrom unjustified interference from other individuals, corporations andgovernments. At this level, privacy and security seem to go hand inhand, reinforcing each other. However, it is important to ask whenexternal interference is justified, leading to conflicts betweenprivacy and security. People may have different views about when anissue of national security, for example, is strong enough to overrideindividual or group privacy concerns. Kenneth Einar Himma defends astrong account, arguing that classical social contract theory impliesthat citizens submit to state authority to gain security, a value thestate is morally obligated to protect. Thus armed services, police,intelligence agencies, public health institutions and legal systemsprovide security for individuals and groups (Moore, ch. 8). But fewwould accept the extreme claim that security always overrides privacy,and in our “technologically enabled, fear-inspired environment,balancing the legitimate needs with cherished rights and competingvalues is an ongoing struggle for a deliberative democracy and societyin general” (Moore, 7). While we can appreciate somewhatdifferent categories of moral, social and legal accountability, justas we discuss moral, social and legal responsibility, we allunderstand it becomes clear that accountability can sometimessupersede privacy rights, and yet privacy rights can on otheroccasions override accountability in its multiple forms. As theauthors in this volume note, there is good reason to conclude thatprivacy, security and accountability are all morally valuable. Yet wemay all wonder what the appropriate balance is between these differentvalues when they conflict.

To describe just a few of the contributions in this volume, AnitaAllen argues that individuals have an obligation to protect their ownprivacy (Moore, ch. 1). While that may be true, it is not at all clearthat individuals can protect their own privacy in the face of nationalsecurity concerns or demands for accountability. Dorota Mokrosinskaemphasizes privacy as a democratic value, thus strengtheningprivacy’s value when it competes with freedom of expression andother political interests. Privacy can facilitate setting aside deepdisagreements in order for political engagement in a democracy toproceed. Thus Mokrosinska proposes a strategy for mediating betweenprivacy and free speech when they collide (Moore, ch. 4). As noted,Kenneth Himma “argues that security is a more important rightthat always ‘trumps’ privacy, which on his view is not anabsolute or fundamental right, but merely ‘instrumental’to other rights” (Moore, 12, and ch. 8). Himma’s defenseis based on his view that security is fundamental to survival – ourmost valuable duty and obligation. In contrast, responding to thisview, Adam Moore defends privacy over security with multiplearguments, perhaps the most powerful of which is demonstrating“the importance of privacy as a bulwark against the tyrannicalexcesses of an unchecked security state” (Moore, 13, and ch. 9).Alan Rubel discusses data collection by the National Security Agency(NSA) in ch. 10, Bryce Clayton Powell focuses on surveillancepractices in chapter 11, and echoes Rubel’s concerns aboutaccountability and transparency in the processes of data collectionand surveillance, thus focusing on the importance of privacy rights inthis new technological era. Their concerns about law enforcement andthe implementation of many practices taken to fall under the PatriotAct are also supported by Nadine Strossen’s discussion of suchenforcement as often both illegal and ineffective (Moore,ch. 12). These discussions in information technology draw readers intocurrent debates about the boundaries between and relative values ofprivacy, security and accountability.

Adverbs – Exercises. 1043 Adverbs – comparison; 1057 Adverbs of frequency in English sentences – Exercise 1; 1059 Adverbs of frequency in English sentences – Exercise 2; 1041 Form of adverbs; 1045 Form of adverbs in English – Crossword; 1049 Position of adverbs; 1021 Position of adverbs of frequency – Exercise 1. Perfect modal verbs - might have, should have: Questions with auxiliary & modal verbs: Semi-modal verbs of advice and preference - had better and would rather: Used To for Past Habits: Semi-modal verbs - used to, be/get used to: Semi-modal verbs - had better & be supposed to. Modal verbs exercises bachillerato

Another discussion of privacy as a concept and its role and associatedtensions in discussions of advancing technology, is Privacy: WhatEveryone Needs to Know, (Francis & Francis, 2017). Itprovides an excellent new overview of the literature and topicscovered in this article. It is both a thoughtful and expansive book,discussing privacy as it relates to concepts such as security andautonomy in decision-making. Also assessing the state of privacy inour changing technological era, the book addresses privacy questionsfor individuals, families and other groups, with detailed attention topersonal information, health care, education, employment and otherfinancial issues, law enforcement, the Internet and social media, andthe importance of privacy in a democracy. It gives a balancedtreatment of alternative views in each of these areas, emphasizing themultiple ways protection of privacy can vary substantially indifferent spheres of our lives. The authors have expertise in bothphilosophy and law, which is particularly timely and increasinglynecessary in any discussion of the value of privacy in these multiplecontexts.


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Other Internet Resources

  • Machan, Tibor, “The Right to Private Property”, in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, J. Fieser (University of Tennessee/Martin), editor.
  • Online Guide to Privacy Resources, Electronic Privacy Information Center, edited by Marc Rotenberg.

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