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Privacy, Control, and Talk of Rights

  • R. G. Frey (a1)

An alleged moral right to informational privacy assumes that we should have control over information about ourselves. What is the philosophical justification for this control? I think that one prevalent answer to this question—an answer that has to do with the justification of negative rights generally—will not do.

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1 See Hohfeld Wesley Newcomb, Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1919).

2 Thomson Judith Jarvis, The Realm of Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).

3 Steiner Hillel, An Essay on Rights (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996).

4 Dworkin Ronald, Taking Rights Seriously (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977).

5 Nozick Robert, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974).

6 Thomson Judith Jarvis, “The Right to PrivacyPhilosophy and Public Affairs 4, no. 4 (Summer 1975): 295314, reprinted in Thomson , Rights, Restitution, and Risk (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 117–34.

7 Finnis John, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980).

8 In this and the next section, I adapt material from my “Ethics, Politics, and Negative Rights,” American Philosophical Association Newsletter 88, no. 1 (11 1988): 2430.

9 Dworkin , Taking Rights Seriously, xv.

10 Hume David, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Selby-Bigge L. A. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888), 503.

11 Finnis , Natural Law and Natural Rights.

12 See, e.g., Beardsley Elizabeth, “Privacy: Autonomy and Selective Disclosure,” in Pennock J. Roland and Chapman John W., eds., NOMOS XIII: Privacy (New York: Atherton Press, 1971), 5670. See also Kupfer Joseph, “Privacy, Autonomy, and Self-Concept,” American Philosophical Quarterly 24, no. 2 (01 1987): 8189.

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
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