Journal of Business Ethics 137 (3):551-569 (2016)

Recent scholarship in philosophy, law, and information systems suggests that respecting privacy entails understanding the implicit privacy norms about what, why, and to whom information is shared within specific relationships. These social contracts are important to understand if firms are to adequately manage the privacy expectations of stakeholders. This paper explores a social contract approach to developing, acknowledging, and protecting privacy norms within specific contexts. While privacy as a social contract—a mutually beneficial agreement within a community about sharing and using information—has been introduced theoretically and empirically, the full impact on firms of an alternative framework to respecting the privacy expectations of stakeholders has not been examined. The goal of this paper is to examine how privacy norms develop through social contract’s narrative, to redescribe privacy violations given the social contract approach, and to critically examine the role of business as a contractor in developing privacy norms. A social contract narrative dealing specifically with issues of privacy is an important next step in exploring a social contract approach to privacy. Here, the narrative is used to explain to analyze the dynamic process of privacy norm generation within particular communities. Based on this narrative, individuals within a given community discriminately share information with a particular set of obligations in mind as to who has access to the information and how it will be used. Rather than giving away privacy, individuals discriminately share information within a particular community and with norms governing the use of their information. Similar to contractual business ethics’ impact on global commerce in explaining how and why norms vary across global contexts, the social contract approach to privacy explains how and why norms vary across communities of actors. Focusing on agreements around privacy expectations shifts the responsibility of firms from adequate notification to the responsibility of firms as contractors to maintain a mutually beneficial and sustainable solution.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2565-9
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,316
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

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.

View all 62 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Online Privacy as a Corporate Social Responsibility: An Empirical Study.Irene Pollach - 2011 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 20 (1):88-102.
Privacy and the Right to Privacy.H. J. McCloskey - 1980 - Philosophy 55 (211):17 - 38.
Privacy, Separation, and Control.Steve Matthews - 2008 - The Monist 91 (1):130-150.
An Intrusion Theory of Privacy.George E. Panichas - 2014 - Res Publica 20 (2):145-161.
Four Challenges for a Theory of Informational Privacy.Luciano Floridi - 2006 - Ethics and Information Technology 8 (3):109–119.
Does Privacy Undermine Community.Mark Tunick - 2001 - Journal of Value Inquiry 35 (4):517-534.


Added to PP index

Total views
55 ( #208,320 of 2,519,317 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #167,254 of 2,519,317 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes