Sep 6, 2012

Philosophical Phun - Social Privacy

File:Gagged by Privacy.JPGConsider this scenario: A twenty-something male standing outside of the supermarket talking loudly on his cell phone making no attempt to hide his conversation. He is so loud and animated that you can tell he is angry with his significant other. Dollar-to-a-donut that you have experienced something similar and that it is painfully uncomfortable. Why do these situations seem to occur more frequently today?

As with most other topics, philosophers have not always agreed on the scope of privacy. However, most have agreed that privacy is a good or a right (privacy referred to here pertains to personal and social relationships not to the legal and constitutional aspects of privacy). With the exception of Plato and Aristotle (they viewed privacy as a negative concept), philosophers generally have promoted privacy as a necessary component for a prosperous and happy society. In social relationships, privacy allows one to “control who knows what about us and allows us to vary our behavior with different people so that we can maintain and control our various social relationships.”

Although it is a challenge to find a single definition that encompasses all we might care about when it comes to privacy, most people have enough strong intuitions about the subject that they argue in its favor and deem privacy to be a positive moral value. There seems to be something intuitive and urgent about privacy that it invokes a sense of discomfort in us when it is violated. The ability to control which details of our lives should be disclosed is something that people cherish and deem to be significant in forming and maintaining relationships.

1 comment:

  1. i think that this is a concept lost upon us in so many areas of life- it's hard to explain to students what 'private thoughts' are since the facebook evolution allows us to post everything we think and do.



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