Privacy: Concept, Value, Right?

  • Alistair M. Macleod
Part of the AMINTAPHIL: The Philosophical Foundations of Law and Justice book series (AMIN, volume 8)


After distinguishing between questions (a) about how the notion of privacy is to be understood, (b) about how privacy in its many different forms is to be evaluated, and (c) how rights to privacy are to be justified, I argue (1) that privacy is a multiply ambiguous notion but that in all its possible senses it is an essentially descriptive, and not a normative, notion; (2) that no single (uniform) answer can be returned to the question whether privacy, in any of the forms it can take, is a desideratum; and (3) that a distinction has to be drawn between what is involved in establishing the existence of rights to privacy when these are grounded in legal arrangements or cultural practices and what it takes to construct normatively persuasive arguments for their existence. While privacy rights of certain limited kinds can be shown to be morally defensible, caution must be exercised if claims about the existence of a more-than-merely-legal human right to privacy are to be underwritten.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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