Democratic Privacy

39 Journal of Applied Philosophy (2022)

23 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2022

See all articles by Russell Bogue

Russell Bogue

Oxford University; Yale Law School

Date Written: October 31, 2022


This article proposes a novel justification for privacy rights based on the relationship between privacy and the democratic devices of voting and deliberation. Through an epistemic conception of democracy, I show that privacy, defined as epistemic inaccessibility, justifies a reliance on the vote as the voluntary mechanism of revealing citizen preferences, even in the face of theoretically more responsive methods. Respecting the inaccessibility of citizens' views ensures that democratic governments remain reliant on, rather than merely responsive to, the wills of their citizens. In addition, spaces of epistemic inaccessibility both motivate a basic form of deliberation between citizens and foster healthy deliberative practices by blunting the potentially corrosive effects of publicity. Privacy can thus be seen as a presupposition of core democratic institutions, and not just as an individual right possessed by members of a liberal-democratic polity. This new conceptualization provides a powerful additional justification for privacy rights and suggests an alternative approach to enacting privacy-protective measures.

Keywords: privacy, democracy, democratic theory, epistemology

Suggested Citation

Bogue, Russell, Democratic Privacy (October 31, 2022). 39 Journal of Applied Philosophy (2022), Available at SSRN:

Russell Bogue (Contact Author)

Oxford University ( email )

Balliol College
Broad Street
Oxford, OX2 6LE

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States

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