Privacy vs. security: Why privacy is not an absolute value or right

In this essay, I consider the relationship between the rights to privacy and security and argue that, in a sense to be made somewhat more precise below, that threats to the right to security outweighs comparable threats to privacy. My argument begins with an assessment of ordinary case judgments and an explanation of the important moral distinction between intrinsic value (i.e., value as an end) and instrumental value (i.e., value as a means), arguing that each approach assigns more moral value, other things being equal, to security interests than to privacy interests. I then consider the issue from with a number of mainstream approaches to normative theories of state legitimacy, including social contract theories (new and old), utilitarian theories, Scanlon's contractualism, and various communitarian theories assign security rights a higher place on the moral hierarchy than privacy rights. I then conclude that, under ordinary intuitions and each of these theories, security interests trump (or outweigh) privacy interests when the two come into “direct” conflict – although I make no attempt to give an algorithm or theory for answering the important question of when these interests come into direct conflict and how to weigh them when, say, minor interests in security conflict with major interests in privacy.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,157
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Internet, Children, and Privacy: The Case Against Parental Monitoring.Kay Mathiesen - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (4):263-274.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Values Education and the Right to Privacy.Alan L. Lockwood - 1977 - Journal of Moral Education 7 (1):9-26.
Is There a Right to Privacy?Steven Davis - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (4):450-475.
Privacy at Work – Ethical Criteria.Anders J. Persson & Sven Ove Hansson - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 42 (1):59 - 70.
Biobank Research and the Right to Privacy.Lars Øystein Ursin - 2008 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (4):267-285.
Privacy, Secrecy and Security.Paul B. Thompson - 2001 - Ethics and Information Technology 3 (1):13-19.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

114 ( #43,332 of 2,171,970 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #117,902 of 2,171,970 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums