The Threat of Secrecy

  • Daniele Santoro
  • Manohar Kumar
Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 6)


National security and strategic interests of the modern state require a certain amount of secrecy. However, state secrecy poses a dilemma for constitutional democracies, whose legitimacy depends on the transparency of democratic decision-making. In this chapter, we defend the argument that citizens’ right to know limits the prerogatives of state secrecy. We start from the debate on the balance between liberty and security and provide some criticisms of the idea that striking a balance is always justified in a democracy. We pay particular attention to the role secrecy plays in matters of national security and the effects of unrestrained secrecy on the enjoyment of rights. We then introduce the notion of epistemic entitlement of rights and argue that secrecy is legitimate within a constitutional democracy only when citizens enjoy a specific right to know in which circumstances their rights can be legitimately limited or restricted. We call this the right of assessment.


Balance model Epistemic entitlement Liberty Right of assessment Rights State secrecy Security 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele Santoro
    • 1
  • Manohar Kumar
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Ethics, Politics, and Society, ILCHUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Social Sciences and HumanitiesIndraprastha Institute of Information Technology, DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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