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Privacy: Restrictions and Decisions

ContributorsLever, Annabelle
Published inAPA newsletters, vol. 13, no. 1, no. Tribute to Anita L. Allen, p. 1-6
Publication date2013

Anita Allen's Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society was one of the first books to try to work out a feminist perspective on privacy, given long-standing feminist doubts and ambivalences about its effects on women. In contrast to a philosophical literature which largely ignored feminist concerns with privacy, Allen set out to consider privacy from an explicitly feminist perspective, drawing on philosophical and American legal debates in order to do so. The result was a highly readable book, which provided an excellent survey of competing attempts to describe the nature and value of privacy, and a helpful account of their relative strengths and weaknesses. Arguing that feminists should revise, not reject, privacy, Allen showed that the ability to restrict unwanted access to our bodies and thoughts is essential to freedom for women, as for men. I am, then, grateful to have an opportunity to celebrate Allen's work and, in particular, a book which has inspired me over the years. Nonetheless, I must agree with Judith DeCew, in her review of Uneasy Access, that its central claims are not wholly persuasive. In particular, Allen's insistence that decisional and restricted access privacy have nothing to do with each other leaves it unclear how the content of our claims to solitude, anonymity, confidentiality and seclusion are to be determined and, normatively, how we are to decide which forms of privacy are valuable and which are not. Hence, this article uses the secret ballot to suggest how we might develop further Allen's insights into the value of privacy.

  • Privacy
  • Democracy
  • Equality
  • Women
  • Secret ballot
  • Decisional privacy
  • Restricted access
  • Anita Allen elections
Citation (ISO format)
LEVER, Annabelle. Privacy: Restrictions and Decisions. In: APA newsletters, 2013, vol. 13, n° 1, p. 1–6.
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Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:30921
ISSN of the journal2155-9708

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