Privacies Not Wanted

Anita L. Allen

in Unpopular Privacy

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195141375
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918126 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Privacies Not Wanted

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This chapter argues that privacy is a ‘foundational’ good to which the United States and similar nations should have a substantive commitment as they do to personal freedom and equality. Foundational goods are the resources typical persons will need as bases for self-respect and to enjoy core liberties. For the sake of foundational goods, including physical and informational privacy, liberal societies properly educate, incentivize, nudge, and where necessary, coerce.People should be taught to value others' privacy and their own. When people abandon privacies typically needed for self-respect, reputation, confidential relationships and other forms of flourishing, it is time to consider mandating the privacy that is unwanted or to which people have become indifferent. Because both opportunities for privacy and the actual experience of privacy are vitally important, privacy cannot be left solely to the realm of waiver-eligible free choices. Not all privacy rights are best considered alienable. We need to extend debates -- common in feminist literatures -- about balancing freedom from unwanted rights of privacy on the one hand with duties of privacy on the other. Privacy theorists should add to their routine agendas contextual explorations of the extent to which varied forms of privacy are legitimately imposed by law even in the face of unwelcoming targets and beneficiaries. A central question for privacy scholars is this: when is coercing privacy by state mandate required by background political ideals, and when does coercing privacy contradict background ideals? While coercing privacy is highly desirable from a liberal democratic point of view, it is also potentially dangerous. Ultimately society must constrain the power to mandate privacy, not only to promote ideals of responsible freedom, but also to promote ideals of responsible government.

Keywords: paternalism; liberalism; feminism; freedom of information; inalienable right; ‘don't ask don't tell,’; ‘waiver or rights,’; peeping-Tom; confidentiality; libertarian; Big Brother; Joyce Maynard; JD Salinger

Chapter.  11086 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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