Re: privacy/openness

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Jul 16 2001 - 07:21:21 MDT

On Mon, Jul 16, 2001 at 08:43:47AM -0700, Technotranscendence wrote:
> On Monday, July 16, 2001 2:23 AM Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Here in Europe, privacy is not commonly regarded as a right. On the other
> > hand integrity (another of those fuzzy terms like human dignity) is
> > regarded as a right, and might for all practical purposes replace privacy
> > in the discussion.
> I wonder if the preference for such "fuzzy terms" is because they are
> malleable to whoever controls the state at the time. I think, too, rights
> discussion in the US is muddled. Granted, a certain degree of fuzziness is
> unavoidable, but I think there's a benefit for some people -- anyone who
> wants to extract benefits for himself/herself and friends -- to maintain
> areas where the state can expand into, especially if its limits (rights) are
> defined loosely to avoid any hard comittments.

I seriously doubt this is a major reason behind the widespread use of fuzzy
terms like human dignity, integrity, autonomy and vulnerability in ethics.
It may be more of an European culture thing, where highly complex concepts
which are fairly clear after 10 years of scholarly study are preferred in
the debate to strictly defined and narrow concepts. Also, the stuff we are
trying to debate in ethics or the privacy discussion is very complex - it
might turn out that even the natural categories needed for this kind of
discussion are very complex and fuzzy.

That said, it is clear that the fuzziness of these termes does lend itself
to being stretched/squeezed to fit political aims. But this might be more
of politicals exploiting lack of understanding of the concepts in the
general public than a promotion of bendable concepts in academia. That
promotion likely have other causes.

> > As I see it, integrity is the ability to determine for oneself what
> > information to let in and out from oneself and to determine what one does
> > with it. I show integrity when I decide for myself whether to be swayed or
> > not by the opinions of others rather than just accept or allow myself to
> be
> > coerced into accepting them. My right to integrity means I can refrain
> from
> > revealing my thoughts or medical information, or demand ownership of such
> > information forcing e.g. a doctor not to reveal it to a third party.
> I don't see how this differs from privacy. The input of information does,
> but the output does not. In fact, from this, it would appear that integrity
> here means privacy plus control over inputs. Some might even argue that
> controlling inputs is a matter of privacy too. After all, I should be able
> to choose what to read, watch, or listen to in my home, etc.

Exactly. I might have a right to say whatever I want, but you don't have to
listen to it and you definitely do not have to believe it.

On the other hand, privacy as it is generally used seems to deal more with
the more external aspects of ones self and life than integrity.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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