What Is the Right to Privacy?
24 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2014 Last revised: 6 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 14, 2014
A philosophical account of the right to privacy should explain what is the distinct interest that the right is there to protect, what it takes to secure it, and what would count as a violation of the right. In this paper I argue that the right to privacy is grounded on people’s interest in having a reasonable measure of control over ways in which they present themselves (and what is theirs) to others; I argue that in order to secure this kind of interest we need to have a reasonably secure and predictable environment about the flow of information. And then it follows that a violation of the right to privacy consists in the manipulation of the environment in ways which unjustifiably diminish one's ability to control how one presents herself to others. An account of the right to privacy should also explain, however, what makes it the case that people have wildly differing views about privacy and about what counts as a violation of the right. The paper aims to answer some of those questions as well.
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