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Honte et Droit à la Vie Privée / Shame and Privacy

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Published in L'Ethique et Pschanalyse: La question de la honte: Deuxièmes rencontres pluridsicplinaires sur l'éthique et l'éthique appliquée. Grenoble (France) - 13-14 Oct. - . 2011
Abstract The association of privacy with the shameful explains much of the ambivalence surrounding privacy. In particular, the idea that privacy is only valuable if you have shameful secrets to hide makes it seem that privacy is without value if you care about people's freedom and equality. At best, it seems, privacy protects hypocrisy and arbitrary social conventions which wrongly make us ashamed of our feelings, desires, beliefs, ideas and experiences. At worst, privacy enables people to hide behaviour that is deceptive, manipulative, exploitative and coercive – in short, behaviour that is immoral and, quite possibly, also illegal. In either case, it is hard to see what value privacy could have if one values democratic government, which is associated with freedom of expression and with ideals of transparency and publicity in the justification and use of power. The aim of this paper is to question this familiar, and intuitive, perception of privacy. I will do this by arguing that the fact that privacy protects people from shame is an important reason to value it if we care about democratic government. As we will see, privacy does not only protect the shameful – there are many forms of expression which are perfectly desirable, valuable and democratic which, nonetheless, require privacy for their development and full realisation. Still, it is important not to confuse the shameful with the immoral, the unjust or the illegal, or to suppose that privacy protection for acts which are shameful must threaten, rather than protect, our ability to see and treat each other as equals.
Keywords PrivacyEqualityDemocracyRightsDutiesShameOutingFreedom of expressionFreedom of the press
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LEVER, Annabelle. Honte et Droit à la Vie Privée / Shame and Privacy. In: L'Ethique et Pschanalyse: La question de la honte: Deuxièmes rencontres pluridsicplinaires sur l'éthique et l'éthique appliquée. Grenoble (France). 2011. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:20199

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Deposited on : 2012-04-24

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