Privacy and Political Theory

26 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 6, 2014


There is widespread disagreement about the terms in which privacy ought to be defined and consequently about the scope of the concept. It is said to lack coherence, leading some to question its value for practical reasoning. In this essay I argue that disagreement about privacy is, at least in part, a manifestation of disagreement about more general moral-political values that the concept of privacy is invoked to serve. Commitment to these values will lead not only to differing views on the value of privacy, but also as to the terms in which it ought to be defined. Locating accounts of privacy in political theory will enable us to impose order on what appears to be a chaotic conceptual landscape.

Keywords: privacy, political theory

JEL Classification: K00, K19

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Andrew J., Privacy and Political Theory (August 6, 2014). U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 690, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew J. Roberts (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Victoria, 3052

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