Privacy in Public: A Democratic Defense

Moral Philosophy and Politics 7 (1):73-96 (2020)
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Traditional arguments for privacy in public suggest that intentionally public activities, such as political speech, do not deserve privacy protection. In this article, I develop a new argument for the view that surveillance of intentionally public activities should be limited to protect the specific good that this context provides, namely democratic legitimacy. Combining insights from Helen Nissenbaum’s contextualism and Jürgen Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, I argue that strategic surveillance of the public sphere can undermine the capacity of citizens to freely deliberate in public and therefore conflicts with democratic self-determination.

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Titus Stahl
University of Groningen


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