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Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade

Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade: On the Limits of Protection for the Self

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade
    Book Description:

    In Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade Neill constructs an original theory of natural rights and human dignity to ground our right to privacy, arguing that privacy and autonomy are innate natural properties metaphorically represented on the moral level and socially bestowed. She develops her position by drawing on works in history, sociology, metaphor, law, and the moral psychology of Lawrence Kohlberg. The resulting theory provides surprising answers to controversial and pressing questions regarding, for instance, our right to privacy for medical records in various contexts and in relation to various authority structures, including government.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6870-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Diagrams
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Twentieth-century literature on the human right to privacy is striking, both because of the range of the theoretical opposition regarding the value and status of this “right,” and because periodical literature of the last decade has largely abandoned theoretical considerations in favour of pragmatic ones. By this I mean that most current literature assumes a right to privacy, at least insofar as such a right has been bestowed through entrenchment in constitutions and legislation, and focuses on resolving specific issues in the fulfilment of this right for determinate individuals and groups. In other words, questions about the existence of this...

  6. 1 The Ontological Structure of Natural Rights
    (pp. 13-47)

    There are several common definitions of the right to privacy. Among the commonest are that it is an aspect of the right “to be let alone,”¹ and that it is the right to control certain kinds of information about oneself. Such definitions, however, do not capture the essence of the right to privacy. For to call it “the right to be let alone” is to use a metaphor to define only one aspect of what truly constitutes this right, while to define it in terms of information control is to define privacy by just one concrete example of its effect....

  7. 2 Distinguishing between Privacy and Autonomy
    (pp. 48-72)

    In order to depict our right to privacy, the distinction between the two psychological natural rights of privacy and autonomy must be clarified. I must delineate more comprehensively the last stage in my ontology of natural rights, namely, the “rights trade” of post-bestowal society. This is the stage at which we fight for specific, concrete rights and the context in which we formulate our first questions about the nature of rights. It will also be necessary to unravel some of the theoretical controversy surrounding privacy as a right, commencing with the theory, popular in some circles, that privacy is really...

  8. 3 Defending the Ontological Theory
    (pp. 73-105)

    There are three main objections, closely related and potentially subversive, to the theory of the ontological structure of natural rights as the foundation of our right to privacy. According to the first, arguing that bestowed rights are grounded ultimately in innate human properties is to commit the famous “naturalistic fallacy.”¹ In answer I remind the reader that obligation towards individual privacy and autonomy is here understood to emerge not directly from facts but rather from a certain ideal of personhood. I shall mitigate the leap from fact to ideal by drawing a distinction between value and prescription.

    The second objection...

  9. 4 Why Privacy?
    (pp. 106-124)

    In this chapter I shall reinforce the position I argued in chapter 2 on privacy as distinct from, yet interdependent with, autonomy within the structure of natural rights. Thus far I have shown that privacy and autonomy are integrally connected through the moral conception of human beings as dignified. I have defended the universal character of that conception as well as its origins in non-moral properties, its metaphorical status, its role as instigator of “the moral” within the two ontologies of natural rights, its universality (essentialism), its pivotal location within several theories of human morality and moral obligation, and its...

  10. 5 Transgressing Privacy: The Theory Applied to Trade
    (pp. 125-156)

    In this chapter I apply my theory to the Western trade in privacy.Specifically, I engage the matter of determining the legitimacy of claims that human privacy rights are transgressed either by the existence of a national medical data bank or by the admittance of psychological counselling records as defence evidence in sexual assault trials. I then address the broader issue of what the theory indicates regarding the privacy of the citizenvis-à-visthe state.

    I shall provide a clear basis for determining whether specific infringements constitute genuine infringements of unwaivable rites of privacy, being true attacks upon human dignity and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-162)

    It has been my purpose to identify the source of our right to privacy and determine its power to supersede other individual and social interests. To do this I have taken a cross-disciplinary approach to establishing a theory of a universal ideology of entitlement that is best expressed through an explication of the dual ontological structure of natural rights. Inherent in this explication has been an examination of “the moral” as a metaphorical representation of innate facts, which representation serves both to satisfy our desire that our lives should have positive meaning and to ground certain claims that will facilitate...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 163-180)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-186)
  14. Index
    (pp. 187-196)