Toward an Institution-based Theory of Privacy

Authored by: Lee Wilkins , Philip Patterson

The Routledge Handbook of Mass Media Ethics

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138681323
eBook ISBN: 9781315545929
Adobe ISBN:


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This project outlines how classical philosophy and legal theory inform a twenty-first century understanding of privacy, particularly where that concept intersects with journalism, the mass media and digital technologies. It accepts that law and ethics are foundational to the concept, thus eschewing Immanuel Kant’s view that law and ethics are entirely separate endeavors. The chapter employs feminist epistemology to connect both domains to the role that technology now plays in how people and the machines that they program and control consider privacy. By triangulating the “issue” of privacy in this way, this effort proposes additional theorizing about how privacy might be articulated and how both responsibility and accountability for that conceptualization be understood at the institutional but non-state level.

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